I learned 'rough it' is used for the event that lasts for a short time like in camping. Does that mean you cannot say, "I roughed it during WWII because of the shortage of food"? ( War lasted for long. ) Is it used only for camping?
I might even say we're "roughing it" at work: we're doing some construction and we will have to park outside all winter instead of in the covered parking garage! It would be a bit of a joke, because we sound rather feeble for complaining.
Following perpend, to rough it, is to improvise to get through difficult or deprived conditions--e.g. cooking over a fire instead of on a stove. Building a lean-to from branches when one has lost one's tent.