Original Research

Coping with chronic stress during COVID-19 and beyond – A faith perspective

Steve le Roux, Rudy A. Denton, Leoné Malan, Nico T. Malan
In die Skriflig/In Luce Verbi | Vol 56, No 1 | a2823 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ids.v56i1.2823 | © 2022 Steve le Roux, Rudy A. Denton, Leoné Malan, Nico T. Malan | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 18 November 2021 | Published: 27 May 2022

About the author(s)

Steve le Roux, Unit for Reformational Theology, Faculty of Theology, North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa
Rudy A. Denton, Unit for Reformational Theology, Faculty of Theology, North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa
Leoné Malan, Technology Transfer and Innovation-Support Office, North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa
Nico T. Malan, Technology Transfer and Innovation-Support Office, North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa


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Abstract

Spiritual coping has been defined as an individual’s ability to utilise faith in God combined with certain Christian beliefs and religious practices to appraise, understand, and effectively cope with stress. We aimed to show the Christian how specific spiritual coping strategies and religious practices could be used to effectively assess and handle chronic stress from a faith perspective amid the ongoing coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic and beyond. A literature study was conducted to identify positive and negative coping strategies during the COVID-19 era and highlighted the adverse effects of chronic stress and defensiveness. Recent findings on religion, the validated bio-engineered chronic stress phenotype, the Coping Strategy Indicator (CSI), Africultural Coping Systems Inventory (ACSI) and the effect of spiritual coping skills were assessed. In addition, certain Bible passages and theological perspectives regarding spiritual coping were explored to identify traces of the fight-or-flight response in the Garden of Gethsemane. The novel chronic stress phenotype reflecting stroke risk, could determine the prevalence of chronic stress. Positive coping strategies were identified, to show how positive spiritual coping skills could be utilised from a faith perspective, in coping with chronic stress amid COVID-19 and beyond. The Believe-Belong-Behave pastoral model, consisting of individual skills, corporate practices, and practical action steps, showed the Christian how certain spiritual coping skills and practices could be implemented during stress coping. The scriptural insights gained from this study, combined with the pastoral model reviewed, could offer a harmonious contribution toward the Christian’s ability to utilise spiritual coping strategies amid COVID-19 chronic stress-induced symptoms and complexities.

Contribution: This article used an inter-disciplinary approach to compare recent findings within Theology, Neurophysiology, Bio-engineering, and Psychology regarding religion, stress-phenotyping, positive stress-coping and mental health. The scriptural foundation encouraged a faith-in-action response to chronic stress during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.


Keywords

COVID-19; chronic stress phenotype; coping; faith response; spiritual coping

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