Religions (Sep 2021)

Building Emotional Resilience: Japanese Women’s Religious and Spiritual Coping Strategies in the Time of COVID-19

  • Paola Cavaliere

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 12, no. 9
p. 723


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This paper explores the moderating effect of religious and spiritual coping mechanisms on the COVID-19 pandemic-induced emotional distress among a group of Japanese women practising temple meditation and yoga. A growing body of literature identifies religion and spirituality as sources of coping mechanisms for emotional distress during the pandemic, in that they enable individuals to find ways to improve subjective well-being and quality of life. The study uses a descriptive phenomenological approach, drawing upon narratives collected between September 2020 and June 2021 from thirty-two respondents composed of a mix of religious-affiliated and self-identified non-religious women practising temple meditation and yoga. Findings indicate that more women, including religious affiliates, have favoured spiritual coping mechanisms in the forms of meditation and body–mind practices to build emotional resilience. This reflects a quest for greater subjective well-being to compensate for the increased burden of emotional care during the pandemic. Overall, while organised religions have come to appropriate more holistic forms of spirituality to respond to demands of emotional care, body–mind spiritual practices have become more appealing for younger religious and non-religious Japanese women alike, in that they downplay gender-conforming ideas of the care economy with its emphasis on dedication and dependency.