Are ‘Bare Minimum Mondays’ Good for Mental Health?Reading Time: 7 minutes
A new self-care trend is changing the way younger workers start their week. Instead of jumping in with both feet to attack their to-do lists, Gen Z employees are practicing what’s known as Bare Minimum Mondays.
What is Bare Minimum Monday exactly? It’s pretty much what it sounds like: doing the bare minimum at work on Monday as a way to reduce stress and prioritize mental health. But does this approach really support well-being? We’ll look at the pros and cons, as well as how to feel better at work every day of the week.
- Bare Minimum Mondays were invented by TikTok content creator Marisa Jo Mayes, as a way to ease into the workweek without too much pressure.
- The trend reflects young adults’ focus on prioritizing self-care and mental health over productivity.
- Whether doing the bare minimum at work helps or hurts your mental health depends on your personality and work style.
- Setting boundaries, taking self-care breaks, and creating more flexibility in your schedule can help support young adult well-being at work.
Where Does Bare Minimum Monday Come From?
The idea of doing “Bare Minimum Mondays” to ease into the workweek came from Marisa Jo Mayes, a TikTok content creator. Mayes came up with the concept as a way to prioritize self-care rather than productivity on Mondays. The idea caught on, and the #BareMinimumMondays hashtag has now had more than 2 million views.
In a way, Bare Minimum Mondays are a response to the Sunday scaries. The Sunday scaries are the feelings of anxiety and dread that people often experience before returning to work or school on Monday morning. So giving yourself permission to do the bare minimum at work on Mondays can make the transition from weekend to work mode feel less uncomfortable and scary.
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What Young Adults Look for in the Workplace
The Bare Minimum Mondays trend is particularly popular among younger workers. That’s because this demographic is more aware than previous generations of how important it is to take care of your mental health, even at work. Young adults’ high levels of stress and mental health issues over the past three years have contributed to their focus on well-being. Instead of checking tasks off a to-do list, they want to do creative work they enjoy. And they want to feel valued and appreciated at work.
Hence, this group, many of whom are new to the workplace, tend to rank positive, supportive environments over other factors when choosing jobs. They’re rejecting all the pressure of the hustle culture, in favor of workplaces that provide psychological safety and encourage work-life balance. In fact, a recent Gallup poll found that 65 percent of Millennials consider work-life balance and personal well-being as “very important” when considering a new job. In fact, those factors are nearly as important to them as benefits and pay rates.
Does Doing the Bare Minimum at Work Support Mental Health?
Do Bare Minimum Mondays really support well-being? That depends on how you interpret them and what helps you do your best work. Here are some of the pros and cons of the trend.
Pro: Doing less can help reduce self-imposed pressure.
For perfectionists and young adults with high-functioning anxiety, taking it down a few notches is often a good thing for mental health. This personality type tends to overwork and push themselves too hard, which can lead to burnout.
That’s the camp Marisa Jo Mayes, creator of Bare Minimum Mondays, falls into. In an interview with Insider, she shared how she left the culture of corporate America behind after getting burned out in her fast-paced corporate job. She started working for herself, but it didn’t help, she says:
It was like a cycle of stress and burnout. I’d feel bad because I was so burned out I couldn't do anything. So I’d make an insanely long to-do list for Mondays with the hope of overachieving my way back to feeling good about myself and how much I was getting done. Every week, the ‘Sunday scaries’ would hit, and every Monday, I’d sleep in until the absolute last second because I knew that list was waiting for me. The pressure I was putting on myself was paralyzing, and I realized something had to change.
Marisa Jo Mayes
Creator of Bare Minimum Mondays
Pro: You may actually get more done.
Setting up your day to be as stress-free as possible hopefully means you’re enjoying your work more, and thus being more productive. Mayes says her Monday workday is shorter now, but it’s not a no-work Monday by any means.
Because she’s doing more focused work, she gets the same amount done as she did in her old eight-hour workdays, she says. (However, she notes that she did not invent Bare Minimum Mondays as a hack to create a more productive workplace. That’s just a positive side effect of practicing self-compassion.)
Con: A Bare Minimum Monday can make the rest of the work week harder.
Doing the bare minimum on Monday may leave you feeling overwhelmed on Tuesday when you have to scramble to catch up on your to-do list. And that can snowball as the work week continues. Hence, this approach can end up creating more stress instead of supporting your mental health.
If you feel that easing into the week slowly could be helpful, try a Bare Minimum Monday Morning instead of the whole day. Start off slow, but set an expectation for yourself that you’ll be more actively engaged and in the zone after lunch.
Con: Doing the bare minimum at work can leave you feeling disengaged.
Doing less can result in feeling disengaged at work and disconnected from your colleagues. Witness the “quiet quitting” trend, which is essentially doing the bare minimum at work every day, not just Mondays. Younger workers typically resort to quiet quitting when they feel undervalued in the workplace and decide to prioritize their mental health over the job. Like the old phrase “phoning it in,” quiet quitting is basically doing the very least you can get away with. But it’s not very satisfying for employees.
Whether it’s due to a negative work situation or an employee’s perception of the situation, lack of engagement at work typically reduces well-being rather than supporting mental health. It leaves employees feeling isolated, purposeless, and undervalued. And that can lead to what’s known as rage applying—looking for other jobs when you’re feeling frustrated and fed up at work.
5 Ways to Practice Self-Care at Work—Mondays and Every Day
Fortunately, doing the bare minimum at work isn’t the only way to practice self-care and maintain a good work-life balance. Here are some tips for boosting well-being and mental health on the job.
Create Appropriate Boundaries
Set healthy boundaries around your availability. There will always be those days when working late is unavoidable. But that might mean starting late the next morning to make up for it, for example. Set personal boundaries as well: Be aware of how much time you spend thinking about your job and your to-do list when you’re off the clock.
Tip: If you find yourself ruminating on work during down time, write yourself a note so you can return to the thought when you’re back on the job. Then take a deep breath and consciously redirect your thoughts away from work.
Find the things that make you excited to get up and start work on Monday morning (and the rest of the work week, too). That might mean blocking out time for focused work on a specific project that requires your full concentration. Or if connecting with others makes your Monday morning easier, see if you can schedule a workplace lunch or a working meeting on a collaborative project.
Tip: Once you find an activity or formula that makes Monday mornings easier and more fun, schedule it in for every Monday. That will help keep the Sunday scaries at bay.
Schedule Self-Care Breaks
Working nonstop all day until you can finally clock out is a recipe for burnout. Instead, schedule in self-care activities like walking, exercising, eating lunch (not in front of a screen) or doing a few minutes of yoga or meditation. Clearing your mind and resting your eyes boosts your energy and creates space for fresh ideas.
Tip: You’ll be more likely to stick to your breaks if you actually put them into your calendar so they won’t get interrupted by meetings or other items on your to-do list.
Establish Reachable Goals
Work with your supervisor (or a mentor, if you’re self-employed) to set goals for advancing in your career, whatever that might mean for you. Don’t give yourself unnecessary pressure by setting unrealistic expectations for what you can achieve. And if you don’t meet a goal, practice self-compassion: Be kind to yourself and reach out for support from a supervisor or other colleague to help you hone specific skills or think through new approaches.
Tip: Break down goals into small, feasible steps that will take you closer to where you want to go. And celebrate each of those small wins along the way.
Explore Flexible Options
Does your job require an eight-hour workday from 9 to 5, or could you rearrange your schedule to align better with your personal life and the way you work best? As younger workers start to change the paradigm of corporate America with trends like Bare Minimum Mondays, more workplaces are willing to be more flexible to support employees’ mental health.
Tip: If you’re feeling vulnerable to burnout, consider taking a vacation day once a week for several weeks. That way you can stay on top of your work while building in more recovery time.
When to Seek Mental Health Support
Just about everyone feels a little tense or a little blue on Mondays sometimes. But if you’ve tried changing your work habits, the way you think about work, and/or your job (like Mayes did) and you’re still experiencing meltdowns and feeling bad about your life, the problem may go deeper.
When young adults feel continually anxious and unhappy at work, or unable to stop thinking about work on the weekends, they underlying issue could be depression or an anxiety disorder. Hence, work isn’t the cause of the distress, but rather a trigger that makes symptoms worse. And while Bare Minimum Mondays might help, they won’t address the real issue.
In these cases, the next step is seeking support from a mental health professional. An assessment with a doctor or clinician can help young adults distinguish between a negative situation at work versus underlying trauma that’s affecting both their professional and personal lives.
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Frequently Asked Questions
What is “Bare Minimum Monday”?
Bare Minimum Monday is a self-care trend that started on TikTok. The idea is to do the bare minimum at work on Mondays in order to ease into the work week.
Is Bare Minimum Monday the same as quiet quitting?
Quiet quitting is basically doing the bare minimum at work every day. Younger workers resort to quiet quitting when they feel undervalued in the workplace and decide to prioritize their mental health over the job.
Is it okay to do the bare minimum?
That depends on how often you do the bare minimum and how it impacts you personally as well as others on your team. Doing the bare minimum every day is likely to lead to disengagement and dissatisfaction at work.
What is “Take It Easy Tuesday”?
Similar to Bare Minimum Monday, this trend focuses on prioritizing self-care over productivity.
What are “Sunday scaries”?
Sunday scaries are the feelings of tension and dread that many people experience as the weekend draws to a close and the stress of returning to work or school on Monday morning looms nearer.