Your Wellbeing

Stress and anxiety during COVID-19

Wellbeing icons

The COVID-19 outbreak is stressful. Fear and anxiety about this virus can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions.

Everyone responds differently in a crisis, such as the COVID-19 pandemic. We need to be mindful of fearfulness among others and try to understand why it is there. The best way to overcome worry is to find a balance between accepting the seriousness of the pandemic and not being too fearful. 

Remember that people react differently to stressful situations. Know that it's okay if you feel more anxious than usual, and it's okay to take time for yourself to manage your mental health.

Watch the 4-minute video below to learn more from a clinical psychologist about what stress may look like during a pandemic and highlights the importance of being kind to yourself.

ways to Cope During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Although this is an anxious and stressful time for everyone, coping with stress will make you, the people you care about, and your community stronger.

Helpful Strategies to Manage Stress and Anxiety

  • Taking care of your body through healthy meals, regular exercise, and plenty of sleep

  • Establish a daily routine 

  • Plan ahead to stock up on essential items

  • Connecting with others such as family and friends (virtually)

  • Helping others if you can

  • Taking breaks and doing activities you usually enjoy

  • Get outside every day while still practicing physical distancing (if you do not need to self-isolate)

  • Avoiding alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs

  • Use services or benefits for vulnerable populations

  • Try volunteering for a cause important to you if you can

  • Practicing mindfulness (scroll down for more information)

  • Staying informed through reliable sources

  • Getting professional help if needed

Watch the 6-minute video below to get advice from a clinical psychologist on how to cope with stress and anxiety during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mindfulness and Meditation 

Mindfulness is the ability to be fully present and paying attention to what’s happening in the mind, body, and environment. It’s a practice that develops over time and trains your brain and body to respond to stress in a more effective way.

Mindfulness is about responding with awareness versus reacting, to help you make decisions that better align with your values. Mindfulness can help you discover how best to care for yourself in the moment.

If you are experiencing pain, focus on a pleasant or neutral place. When you feel joy, stay present in the moment. Mindfulness helps you notice how you feel and respond with kindness. It may also help prevent mental health conditions or maladaptive behaviours and thoughts that may develop. 

Watch the 10-minute video below for expert clinical psychologist tips on practicing mindfulness during the COVID-19 pandemic.

You can also access expert-approved mindfulness resources online: 

For more information on the use of mindfulness for managing symptoms of Crohn's or colitis, check out our Gutsy Learning Series video

Create a Wellness Plan

Here are some important things to keep in-mind when developing a plan to maintain your mental and physical health. 

  • Things I need to do every day to maintain my wellness: What are the things that help you feel good that are important for you to remember to do every day?

  • Things I should think about doing once in a while: What are the things that you don’t need to do every day, but you should remember to do more regularly?

  • Things I should avoid doing: What are some things you tend to do to when experiencing difficult emotions that are not really that helpful?

  • Knowing Early Warning Signs: What are some signs that you are experiencing elevated levels of distress and may need to pay more attention to your wellness

  • Improving Distress Action Plan: What are some specific things I can do when I am feeling distressed? Is there a specific order in which I should do these things?

  • Crisis Action Plan: What are some specific things I should do if I’m experiencing a mental health crisis?

To download and fill-out an action plan developed by Dr. Erin Johns a Clinical Health Psychologist from the University of Manitoba, please click here.

Parents with IBD

For parents with IBD who are high risk, it is important to remember that your behavior impacts your children. Try to keep things as normal as possible, making sure that you are informed and not raising the level of your child’s anxiety unnecessarily. 

Watch the 1-minute video below on dealing with your fear of COVID-19 when you are a parent.

Staying Informed and Getting Help

Life during a pandemic is different for us all, but if you are someone who is living with Crohn's or colitis, you may have extra stressors in your life to consider. It is important to use reliable sources to stay informed about COVID-19 and the impact it has on people affected by IBD to help maintain your mental and physical wellness. 

Watch the 3-minute video to for advice on staying informed, using self-management tools, and seeking professional help if necessary to help manage stress and anxiety during COVID-19.

It common for most people to occasionally experience symptoms of anxiety or sadness, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. But it may be time to see a health care provider if you feel like your symptoms of anxiety or depression are persistent (occurs most of the time), excessive, and negatively interferes with activities of everyday such as work or study, virtual socializing and managing daily tasks. Talk to your health care provider if you are concerned about feelings of anxiety or depression. 

Watch the 3-minute video below for expert guidance on how to tell if you're experiencing signs and symptoms of depression or anxiety during this time.

Mental health professionals include counsellors, psychotherapists, psychologists, psychiatrics, and nurse practitioners. Talk to your health care provider about how to get a referral to a mental health specialist in your community. Some of these specialists may be able to provide therapy viturally using tele-health or video conferencing. 

Watch the 3-minute video below for expert advice on when it may be time to seek professional help to maintain your mental health and wellness. 

Additional Resources

Check out these expert-approved resources to help you maintain your mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic:

Wellness Together Canada

  • Wellness self-assessment and tracking.
  • Self guided courses, apps, and other resources.
  • Group coaching and community of support.
  • Counselling by text or phone.

Anxiety Canada

  • Learn about anxiety and strategies to manage. 

Canadian Mental Health Association

  • Provides advocacy, programs and resources that help to prevent mental health problems and illnesses, support recovery and resilience.

Coping with Coronavirus

  • Group of Trainee Clinical Psychologists from University College London
  • Provides resources to manage mental health at home during this very difficult time.
Dr Benchimol and Dr Kaplan photos

Want to help boost our research initiatives?

Text CURE to 20222 to donate $25 to support Crohn’s and Colitis Canada’s world class research projects!



  • Canada has among the highest incidence rates of Crohn's and colitis in the world.
  • 1 in 140 Canadians lives with Crohn’s or colitis.
  • Families new to Canada are developing these diseases for the first time.
  • Incidence of Crohn’s in Canadian kids under 10 has doubled since 1995.
  • People are most commonly diagnosed before age 30.