Americans don’t agree on a lot these days, but most people agree on this: Young people are seriously stressed out.
In 2022, when the professional services network Deloitte surveyed the mental health of millennials and Generation Z, the researchers found skyrocketing levels of stress and anxiety. Nearly half of Gen Zers and just under four in 10 millennials said they feel stressed out or anxious all or most of the time, the report says. And that has translated into difficulties adapting to the work world: 46% of Gen Zers and 45% of millennials said they felt “burned out due to the intensity and demands of their work environments.”
There’s some good news here, in terms of transparency. These generational groups tend to be more than happy to reveal their struggles to the world, often through social media. Consider beloved Gen Z Olympic gymnast Simone Biles, who shared her mental health struggles with the world during the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. That sort of frank self-awareness has been emblematic of her generation.
Now a millennial named Marisa Jo Mayes has gone viral with her own stress-related struggles — ones that a lot more people can relate to. Her challenge was feeling stressed at work, and she came up with a solution called Bare Minimum Monday.
The Birth Of Bare Minimum Monday
After a stint working in medical sales, Mayes tried self-employment, but she was still stressed out from the constant hustle to make money.
“I would wake up on Monday already feeling behind, overwhelmed and anxious,” she told CNBC Make It. “This feeling would only compound as the week continued.”
She decided to give herself permission one Monday in 2022 to do the “bare minimum” she had to do. What followed was a highly counterintuitive result.
“Alleviating that pressure and choosing to let myself off the hook was a much-needed change of mindset going into the beginning of the week … which suddenly allowed me to be productive again,” she told CNBC Make It.”
In a series of TikTok videos, Mayes described the experience, coining the term “bare minimum Mondays.” The new term has joined a list of others like “Sunday scaries” (the anxiety people feel Sunday night before the start of the work week) and “quiet quitting” (doing one’s job without going above and beyond).
Here’s how she implemented Bare Minimum Mondays:
@itsmarisajo Reply to @itsmarisajo 😴📉🐢 #bareminimummonday ♬ Young Folks – Shindig Society
In a recent TikTok video, Mayes explains some of what she does on these more free-form mornings: she makes coffee, listens to a podcast, does a puzzle, and takes care of tasks that she failed to accomplish on Sunday. She does work if she needs to as well — just at a slower pace.
@itsmarisajo Welcome to Bare Minimum Monday, where I: ☁️ try to make every part of the day as enjoyable as possible ☁️ make time to play my Little Game ☁️ wear my Do Not Disturb hat (available now in both black & white!!! l!nk in my thing!) ☁️ do my work during @Spacetime Monotasking focus sessions ☁️ work ~only~ as long as it takes to finish my must-do’s ☁️ finish chores I didn’t want to do on the weekend ☁️ do whatever is good for morale 🙂 ☁️ go outside because a happy me = a more productive me later in the week #bareminimummonday #bareminimummondays #selfemployment #selfemployed #wfh #selfemployedlife ♬ Theme From A Summer Place – Percy Faith
What Is Bare Minimum Monday?
The idea, in a nutshell, is to ease into the work week by spending Monday practicing self-care and doing just enough work to get by. Employers even began to take notice, with some officially implementing the practice. It even showed up in a “South Park” episode.
“For us, it means not putting pressure on ourselves to get those big projects done,” Australian marketing manager Caitlin Winter recently told news.com.au. “Other things that we might get to do on these days are loads of washing we didn’t get to on the weekend, grocery shopping, planning dinners for the week or walking your dog.”
Winter explains in this TikTok how implementing the trend was one of the best things she’s ever done as a manager:
@caitlinjwinter As soon as I read about the concept of #bareminimummondays I knew I wanted in. Sunday nights have always meant the Sunday Scaries for me, but introducing Bare Miminim Mondays for me and my team means I can go to bed not feeling that sense of dread. I can wake up a little later on a Monday morning, go to my gym class and then ease into my work week feeling refreshed and energised. Credit for this concept goes to the amazing @MJ ⚡️ ⚡️#marketingmanager #corporatelife #wfhlife #corporategirlies ♬ original sound – Caitlin Winter
But the Bare Minimum Monday trend has also drawn comparisons to quiet quitting, which many consider problematic. Mayes herself has addressed the comparisons, doubling down on the positive side of both trends.
@itsmarisajo Replying to @kettlebelllife Quiet Quitting 🤝 Bare Minimum Monday #hustleculture #bareminimummonday #bareminimummondays #worklifewellbeing #burnoutrecovery ♬ Theme From A Summer Place – Percy Faith
In the video, she explains that Bare Minimum Monday is actually very similar to quiet quitting. Just like that trend, she said, “It’s me rejecting the idea that my productivity is more important than my well-being.”
What Critics Say About Bare Minimum Monday
Not everyone is aboard with the idea of Bare Minimum Mondays, of course.
“Bare minimum Monday is a great way to get fired,” Ivan Misner, the founder of the networking firm Business Network International, told Axios. He explained that it “sets up people to fail in their role.”
And Jay McDonald, an executive coach and business adviser, told Axios that people who ease into the work week this way could “be vulnerable to layoff” if they don’t show a “positive or constructive attitude or not really being committed to getting the job done.” He prefers Balanced Mondays, saying that using the term “bare minimum” seems one-sided.
Both experts believe a better way to go about relieving work stress would be to work with a manager to set priorities.
Is Bare Minimum Monday Right for You?
For many people, simply easing your efforts at work one day a week isn’t realistic. After all, you need to make yourself valuable to the company so you aren’t fired or laid off the next time it goes through a winnowing process. As writer Adita Bora advised in Upworthy, this can allow you some job security as you make moves to find better workplaces.
And experts point out that Bare Minimum Mondays aren’t necessarily the solution. If you are really experiencing high amounts of stress on Sunday nights and Monday mornings, there could be a deeper issue at play. If that’s the case, you’re treating the symptoms, not the cause, and simply reserving Mondays for self-care won’t solve your problems in the long run.
“Maybe your work makes you feel unappreciated … or the work makes you feel like you’re going away from the purpose of your life, then it’s really not about the Sunday Scaries or Monday,” psychiatrist Nahid Dave told Vice. “Often, it could be about the weekend itself, where you might feel that you didn’t have enough fun, and you just wasted it lying down on your bed.”
Also, some people can’t take advantage of it, which makes it a somewhat privileged activity. For example, people of color may feel like falling off in productivity may especially endanger their jobs. People in certain jobs, like restaurateurs, salon owners and teachers may not be able to take the start of the week more slowly. It’s much easier for self-employed people, or those who work from home.
Ending The Sunday Scaries
But there’s no denying that Mayes has benefited from Bare Minimum Monday. In one video, she says she no longer gets the Sunday scaries. She captioned it, “I don’t even want to know what my life would look like without Bare Minimum Monday.”
@itsmarisajo I don’t even want to know what my life would look like without Bare Minimum Monday & @spacetimemonotasking #wfh #selfemployed #worklifewellbeing #bareminimummonday #bareminimummondays #burnoutrecovery #selfemployedlife ♬ Theme From A Summer Place – Percy Faith
In fact, she’s leaned so far into these notions of work-life balance that she’s parlayed some of the ideas into a start-up company called Spacetime Monotasking. She and her partner Anna sell “live virtual focus experiences” that allow clients to pursue productivity rather than just “busy”-ness. According to her site, for $35, you can sign up for five sessions that will help you with “structure and accountability to connect to your focus.”
Just not on Monday morning, presumably.