Lindgren I, Trulsson Schouenborg A, Larsson C, Stigmar K
BMC Public Health 23 (1) 1743 [2023-09-07; online 2023-09-07]
Both COVID-19 and its associated societal restrictions have affected individuals' health and everyday life. In Sweden, more lenient public health restrictions were implemented, with individuals asked to act responsibly in terms of reducing spread of disease. The majority of studies reporting on experiences of Covid-19 restrictions have been in the context of more substantial mandatory rules aimed at reducing social contact, therefore it is important to describe how more lenient restrictions have impacted individuals' well-being. This study aims to describe perceptions of everyday life during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, perceived by individuals with no underlying medical condition, and living with more lenient public health restrictions in Sweden. The participants were recruited from individuals who originally had participated in an online survey about life satisfaction, health, and physical activity. Fifteen individuals (median age 49, range 26-76 years, seven women) in various social situations, such as living alone/cohabiting, having children at home, geographical area and size of city were interviewed. Qualitative content analysis was applied to the data. An overall theme "Both hindrances and opportunities in important life domains were experienced within the same person during lenient Covid-19 restrictions" was derived and covered three categories: "New possibilities of flexibility in work and better health", "Life went on as usual with minor adjustments" and "Everyday life changed and became more difficult" together with eight subcategories. For most participants, both facilitating and hindering important domains in life were described. Unexpected findings were positive experiences regarding working from home, physical activities, leisure time activities and the balance between work and leisure time. In areas where only minor adjustments were made, life was perceived as going on as before. On the other hand, restrictions increased worries and were perceived to have negative effects on social participation. The impact of the pandemic and lenient restrictions in Sweden on the participants´ everyday life was multifaceted. Both hindrances and opportunities in important life domains were experienced within the same person. An increased flexibility in work- and leisure activities were perceived having positive effects for health and wellbeing and led to a better balance in life.