Mario Calabresi in Milan
Here in Milan, in the region that has already counted more deaths than the whole of China, we have entered the third week of lockdown. Our lives have radically changed, and this is what I've learned.
These weeks have been full of genuine regret for having underestimated our predicament. Those of you who still have time - don't waste it: in the blink of an eye, protective face masks, gloves and hand sanitisers became a rare and unobtainable commodity.
For too many days - the first few when the virus was already in our midst, but we could still go out - we thought it was rude not to shake hands with friends and colleagues, that keeping our distance was somehow insulting, that we could still down a beer, share that last pizza and have a workout in the gym. The sooner we understand that our lifestyles have to change profoundly, the sooner we can avoid mistakes.
Our windows and balconies were our salvation in that first week. Everyone was looking out on to the wider world: to sing together, to play an instrument, to greet the neighbours, to exchange advice. That was phase one: rediscovering our homes, our apartment blocks, our friends.
The psychological collapse took place on the second Monday, when we said to each other: 'So it's not a holiday, are we really confined to our homes?' And then the windows closed.
You have to just grin and bear it, accept the state of affairs without allowing anger to well up inside, without cultivating regrets.
Stop counting the days, and don't wake up every morning fooling yourself into thinking that the light is at the end of the tunnel. Nobody knows when this chapter will come to a close. This is not a hundred metre sprint, it is a marathon, and the qualities called for are perseverance and endurance. The best thing you can do is take your life one day at a time, stay focused on the present, structure your time, allow method to prevail over madness: set your alarm in the morning, exercise, work, study, cook, tidy up, clean.
Fix a time to go online to get updates on coronavirus news, or when to turn on the television or radio: a continuous flow of information makes it hard to keep anxiety and fear at bay. It's important to see this suspension in time as an active choice, vital to protect ourselves and others.
Mario Calabresi is one of Italy's best-known journalists. He is a former editor-in-chief of the daily newspapers 'La Stampa' and 'La Repubblica'.