For the last eight weeks I have self-isolated; stayed at home, protected the NHS and saved lives. At the start I railed against it, in person and in print, and ached for its end.

But now, disturbingly, I find myself anxious and fearful about life after lockdown. I am suffering from a sort of lockdown agoraphobia; the thought of sitting on a train with other people, using public transport, touching a petrol pump that’s been used by someone else, entering a shop, brings me out in a cold sweat. I used to grumble that my long-standing weekly grocery delivery was missing key items. It still is, but I now greet its arrival with a sense of relief, forgiving any paucity reassured that I won’t have to go out shopping.

Six weeks ago, I laughed with colleagues at the absurdity of elbow bumping as a replacement for a handshake. Today, hackles rise if anyone gets closer than two metres when I’m out exercising. Zoom pub quizzes have become so much the norm, that a real one with other people in the same room, would be alien.

I am not alone. I spoke with a friend who is a trauma therapist; she said that the long-term social mental health cost is likely to be borne by those who will struggle, not with the distress of dealing with the health crisis, hard though that is, nor the stress of being confined to their home, but by those who will find it difficult to resume life and normal relationships as we emerge. The words struck home.

In the 1950s Matthew Malz, an American plastic surgeon, observed that his patients took on average 21 days to adapt to their surgery. More recent and extensive research suggests that whilst one can accept and adapt to change in that short time, it will probably take between two and eight months for new conscious or enforced behaviour to become regular habit. For many people, even with occasional lapses, it will likely last a lifetime.

We’re nearly there. Lockdown has lasted six weeks. Habits are forming. My daily beagle run over Cockey Down with its views of the city and the cathedral, along paths and lanes alive with birdsong and heavy with the scent of cow parsley have become a source of daily refreshment (and a necessary corrective to increased snacking!). The thought of replacing them with runs around London streets and parks when I return to ‘normal’ working brings me out in a cold sweat.

My reassurance in all this is that each chapter of this unfolding Coronavirus story, we have overcome anxieties and challenges that none of us could have imagined before, each of which seemed insurmountable. That we have all come this far, albeit scathed, is reassurance to cling to for the future.

Good luck!