Having never heard of or even foresee a lockdown approaching, the news of the novel respiratory virus which spreads so quickly just like the disease (COVID-19) itself. I had completed my initial research progress review and just started my laboratory work on ‘synthesising optimised hydrogel’. Unfortunately, all lab operations ceased on 27th March 2020 with the reality being that I was now working remotely from my room at the Mitchell Hall. At first, I was quite ecstatic about this, assuming no lab work meant it was going to be a relaxing break away from academic life. The first few days felt just like a normal day-off, but what lay ahead was one of the toughest and challenging experiences in my life. It doesn’t take long for the reality of the lockdown to sink in.  

The satisfying feeling of staying at home soon wore off and I started to struggle to cope with the lockdown restrictions.  Personally, adjusting to the desktop work in my room was my initial struggle. This followed by the temptation to take frequent naps which developed into long day sleeps, resulting in poor work outputs. Moreover, it was my first time in the UK and my first summer experience. I never heard of daylight savings in the UK before and did not realise it can go as far as 10:00 pm before it gets darker and early as 5:00 am for the sun to rise! This totally confused my routine biological clock, from diurnal to nocturnal. As COVID-19 spreads throughout the world, concerns of families’ health and wellbeing in my home country began to trouble my mind.  

Almost a month passed, and I found ways to deal with negative pressures. I realised that lockdown gave me more time to do other things, which I was not keen on doing or just couldn’t allocate time it deserved before. I started using my time to work on my Critical Literature Review, which most research students often cannot dedicate adequate time to complete whilst planning and conducting their experimental projects simultaneously. I started going out jogging and started a flexibility workout, which have not done in almost 10 years. I now do 20 minutes of jogging, 30 sit-ups, 30 push-ups, 50 squats, 20 lunges, and 60 seconds plank twice a week. As well as burning off some calories, it was the best remedy for my tired and stressed situation.

Also, the lockdown gave me the opportunity to learn and use alternative communication technologies such as Skype, MS Team, and Zoom, which are fantastic professional communication tools. Monthly Supervisory video calls via the aforementioned communication tools with my supervisors were timely. Their communication during this tough time was supportive and encouraging. One important positive I can take away from the lockdown is the ability to manage myself to handle stressful situations both emotional, physiological, and financial.

I understand how difficult the lockdown must be to many, but it’s important to remember that none of us is alone. No matter how trapped, scared, alone, tired, or stressful it can be, we can be optimistic that things will get better.  Find time to do some exercise to keep yourself healthy and refreshed and/or maybe spending some quality time with your inhouse hobbies to pass time. Remember, the situation will not stay forever and all these negatives including COVID-19 will come to pass in time. 

At this juncture, I wish to sympathise with those you have lost their lives from COVID-19, pass my prayers to those who are currently fighting the disease, and comforts to their families. 

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