New Year, New Me…Or Maybe Not?



Even during winter break, a time meant to spend relaxing, students can feel overwhelmed and stressed for the future.


As we approach the final stretch of 2022, instead of looking back on a year of readjustment, socioeconomic turmoil, and Elon Musk’s twitter takeover, most of us are scrambling through our Google Classroom to-do list— praying that there is no last minute major assessment we have missed. But then, you see your nightmares come to fruition: a crimson-red “missing” flashing across your screen.   

Contrary to the cold weather taking over these last few months, lately many EHS students have been victims of burnout. Chloe Chan ‘25 claimed she found herself “not having enough energy to do homework and study,” amidst increasing amounts of work. A burnout can be defined as a state of stressfulness in which the student’s stress manifests in a lack of focus, motivation, and lethargy. Once people fall victim to burnout, the stress will keep building due to your increasing amounts of unfinished work and your inability to effectively address it. It feels as if your work has physically manifested itself to drown you, and that no matter how much further you swim, the water will seep into your lungs and leave a limp, lifeless body in its wake. Nevertheless, students cannot help seek out the sliver of light penetrating through the water: winter break. 

 Winter break— a time for rest, relaxation, and even a bit of missed work— is often considered a wonder drug. Many students such as Sydney Huertas ‘26 and James Stavenick ‘25 expressed their wishes to spend this holiday season with their friends, working out, or just taking time for themselves. However, this newly gained relaxation will not last the new year. 

A 2009 study on burnout conducted by the Journal of Occupational Health found that while vacations initially decreased stress, any benefits of the vacation seemed to disappear after two to four weeks. This is most likely because students fall into the same traps once the vacation is over, failing to address the true causes of burnout— procrastination, work habits, and support systems. 

So, if a break cannot mend burnout, what remedies the average high school student’s case of workload burnout? Many turn to goal-making as a source of motivation. As we near the end of 2022, New Year’s resolutions in particular are on the forefront of students’ minds. Remarking on a highly shared sentiment among EHS students, Ainie Syed ‘26 said “by having a set goal to work for during the new year, it becomes easier to prioritize the things you do.” She agrees with the philosophy of annual resolutions as they provide a sense of purpose and reason. Oftentimes, multiple goals can overwhelm the individual, and contribute to stress. This makes a singular New Year’s resolution the more viable option for stressed students. 

This is most likely because students fall into the same traps once the vacation is over, failing to address the true causes of burnout— procrastination, work habits, and support systems

The simplicity of New Year’s resolutions is likely the reason for their popularity. How hard can it be to write a brief goal in your journal? The feasibility of New Year’s resolutions begins to go awry at the stage after its initial creation: implementation. Hrishi Shah ‘26 said, “Just think of multiple goals and improve on them whenever you have the chance.”

Shah emphasizes goals and resolutions must be dynamic and adaptable to changes in your lifestyle. It is impractical to create a single goal and expect it to remain applicable throughout the course of an entire year. Instead, students suffering the symptoms of burnout can create a set of “micro-goals” as building blocks to an overarching goal. For instance, rather than sticking to a main goal of earning good grades, break the goal down into passing your next math test, setting aside time to work on your English essay, then completing any missing assignments, etc.

The transition from exam stress and burnout to winter break and the new year only promotes further academic pressure, setting unrealistically high expectations for high schoolers. Self-reformation is not an overnight process, and every student achieves their goals at their own pace. For many, this means taking smaller steps within a larger goal. So, new year, new me? Unlikely. New year, new strategies. A step in the right direction.