WINNIPEG -- Almost all sectors of the economy have been hit by the pandemic, but for small business owners, the negative effects aren't just economic, they're facing an increase in mental stress.

The list can be long for owners as they must pay employees, pay for rent, and think about the future of their business.

"Having a business by itself is already somewhat overwhelming, let alone in a pandemic, can be crazy at times. It has its moments," said Amanda Deroy Sheriff who owns and operates Beauty Box.

She runs the business with her mom and said staying positive has helped her keep the business going.

"I always say when you're feeling super panicked, good things don't usually come when you're so panicked. So try and calm your nerves, calm yourself down."

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) asked entrepreneurs early on in the pandemic for words that described their state of mind. Words like "stress", "depress" and "worry" were among the responses.

More recently, 43 per cent of business owners say overwhelming stress is what worries them most about COVID-19.

"Now it's continuing to meet bills, payroll, rent, has been a huge added stress to a lot of business owners," said Jonathan Alward, who is the director of provincial affairs for the prairie region for the CFIB.

The Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce heard similar mental health concerns from its members.

"For many, it was a paralyzing effect. The stress on their ability to really manage through the crisis," said Loren Remillard, the executive director of the commerce.

He added that there is still such a sense of uncertainty that it is hard to plan and anticipate for what is next.

For Sheriff, she is doing her best to plan for the future by adapting to a COVID-19 retail reality, by improving their e-commerce and giving smaller, local retailers physical and digital shelf space.

"What was working last year in 2019 is no longer working in 2020. So instead of trying to go backwards, what past is past. It's time to go forward," said Sheriff.