Asian Heritage Month 2020: Millennial burnout in quarantine

To wrap up Asian Heritage Month, Cold Tea Collective kicks off their Cold Tea Talks online event series with multi-disciplinary creative, Juno Kim.


Date: Thursday, May 28, 2020
Time: 6:00 PM Pacific Time
Location: Instagram Live
#coldteacollective #coldteatalks 

Cold Tea Collective will be hosting an Instagram Live event with our Co-Founder and Executive Producer, Natasha Jung, in conversation with multidisciplinary creative and mindfulness entrepreneur, Juno Kim.

The dialogue will explore the challenges faced in the transition between moving a million miles a minute to the point of burnout, quarantine life, and moving forward with more mindful habits in place. 

Juno Kim is known for being a conscious chef, creating memorable projects for top brands, publications, films (including Always Be My Maybe with Ali Wong and Randall Park), and tech companies looking for unique food experiences or visuals. Learn about Juno’s experience with creativity, mental health, and connection with his Korean Canadian heritage in his Creative Mornings talk.

Learn more about Natasha’s experience navigating between cultural expectations and her values after burning out in the workplace, and why she created Cold Tea Collective in her TEDx talk

Ahead of Cold Tea Talks, we asked our feature guest a few questions to get our minds into the right place: 

Cold Tea Collective (CTC): What is wellness?

Juno Kim (JK): Wellness is a place where we thrive.

What I found while improving my own well-being was how complex and interconnected wellness can be. Wellness is like the music produced by an orchestra of behaviours, routines, lifestyle, thoughts, emotions, and experiences. Just like in a real orchestra, there are many layers, and they’re all affecting one another, hopefully finding harmonies and synergies.

Wellness is also deeply personal in many ways, while simultaneously having many universal principles. Some people may respond better to certain stimuli or varying amounts, but at the end of the day, most humans will thrive if they have a good amount of movement, rest, sleep, whole and unprocessed foods, love and connection, nature, purpose and a connection to self.

CTC: Why do you think burnout is so prevalent amongst millennials? 

JK: We live in a capitalistic society marred by blatant corruption and inequality. Most urban areas have extremely high costs of living, and most millennials can’t even fathom buying a house. 

We also live in the hustle culture, where being busy is a badge of honour. On top of that, companies spend billions on marketing to push the idea that we’re not happy and we’re not enough, but buying this product that we don’t need will help us feel better. 

Social media then exacerbates these issues by aiding in self-comparison. The dense areas we reside in somehow make us feel more alone, with an extreme amount of stimulus and distraction bombarding our attention muscles. And without our attention muscle, we tend to lose the ability to be in the moment, to foster connection, to cultivate gratitude. We lose our mental well-being.

Western society can create the perfect storm for dissatisfaction, prioritizing money or success over everything else, while pushing individuality over collectivism. Then we shame people when they try to make money by buying up goods that are in demand during a pandemic. Of course, that behaviour is wrong — but how can we blame the person when the systems and culture in place push people to these behavioural outcomes?

I believe this is objectively the best time in history [based] on many metrics on violence, poverty, quality of life, and such — but subjectively, I believe it’s the worst. Mental health issues are arguably more prevalent now than ever. My hypothesis is that the further we get away from what our bodies and our minds have evolved to thrive in, the worse we will feel.

CTC: Do you think Asian millennials experience burnout more or differently than others? 

JK: I think many Asian millennials living in the Western world can sometimes feel stuck between two cultures, while internalizing the mental and emotional strain of this dichotomy. 

Many of us, myself included, were raised with very strict parents that emphasized critique over praise, and nothing was ever good enough. For myself, I internalized those attitudes in my self-talk, creating a lot of internal stress and strain. I had no self-love, self-care or self-compassion. My self-talk was incredibly toxic at times.

I think another huge factor in why we might experience burnout more frequently or with more intensity is tendency to always think about the future, without enjoying the present moment. Some of us can feel pressured to always be looking ahead, ever since we were kids. We study hard to get good grades. We get good grades to get into a good school. We excel in school to get a high income, high status job. 

Once we get there, many of us haven’t learned how to process stress and/or emotions, how to cultivate gratitude and acceptance, how to care for oneself to sustain a heavy workload, how to live with intention rather than living through your parents’ or society’s desires. We get there and we’re ill-equipped to find a place of wellness. We never learned that we can enjoy life, even while we’re working really hard to do things that benefit our future selves.

Be sure to follow both @coldteacollective and @jun0k on Instagram to get notified of when they go live to answer these questions and more on May 28th, 2020 at 6:00pm Pacific Time.

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