The 3 Types of Burnout Explained

As you work towards your goals, you may often feel invigorated, excited, and motivated. You know what you want, you know how to get there, and you’re looking forward to the journey. Unfortunately, many people also experience another feeling when working and achieving their goals: burnout.

Instead of feeling excited and motivated about your work, you feel apathetic and possibly even resentful. So, what gives? Why is it that once we achieve everything we thought we wanted, it doesn’t feel as fulfilling as it should? As it turns out, burnout is common, and there are three main types — let’s take a look at them. 

1. Overload Burnout


When you experience overload burnout, you may be working yourself way too hard — to the point of exhaustion. With this type of burnout, you may feel inclined to work harder and harder so you can achieve all of your goals or because you feel obligated to do so from a moral or ethical perspective. This is common amongst all professionals, but particularly rampant amongst those in helping professions and first responders. You may also find that you are feeling stretched too thin due to multiple requirements on your time, such as a job and caregiving for children or loved ones; a situation that has become all too common during the pandemic era. Every parent of young children has smelled the smoke of impending burnout over the past year. Unfortunately, as you push yourself too hard, you’re overworking and overloading your brain and body. Over time, this can be detrimental to your health and wellbeing.

2. Under-Challenge Burnout

With under-challenge burnout, you may feel bored or unmotivated in your workplace. You may also feel unnoticed and under-appreciated by your peers and superiors. Many people experience this type of burnout when they’re stuck in jobs that don’t have many growth opportunities or promotions. This type of burnout is often experienced when you feel disconnected with your co-workers or leadership; a situation that is unfortunately easy to encounter when many of us are working from home. You lose your passion for work, and it becomes monotonous and unfulfilling. Over time, you may feel disengaged with your work—to the point that you avoid it or become cynical about it. 

3. Neglect Burnout 

Neglect burnout occurs when you aren’t given enough guidance in the workplace, leaving you feeling helpless, frustrated, and uncertain. It’s difficult to meet expectations when they aren’t clearly expressed and the means to do so are lacking. You may feel unable to keep up with work demands, and over time, this may make you feel incompetent. In reality, you are perfectly competent, you just don’t have resources in the workplace to help you accomplish the tasks required of your position. Over time, you may begin to feel unmotivated about your work. 

Signs of Burnout

Now that you have an overview of the three types of burnout, we can take a closer look at symptoms. Any of the three types of burnout may cause these symptoms:

  • Lack of motivation in the workplace or in your major roles (e.g., parenting)
  • A feeling of apathy or passiveness towards your work or role
  • The desire to procrastinate
  • Headaches or other body aches
  • Constantly feeling overwhelmed
  • A sense of helplessness in the workplace or in the home
  • Feeling irritated at coworkers (or coparents)
  • Losing optimism about your career and future
  • Wondering if you’ve made the right career or life choices

As you can see, the symptoms of burnout can be quite debilitating. While you once had optimism about your career or life plan, burnout can quickly deplete it, leaving you questioning your choices and feeling insecure about your accomplishments and decisions. 

Combating Burnout

While burnout is discouraging, there is some good news: there are ways to combat it. Burnout doesn’t have to be permanent, and by taking some essential steps, you can move past it and into a more comfortable relationship with your work and relationships.

If you think you’re experiencing burnout, start by figuring out which type it may be. Do you feel underappreciated at work or at home? Under-challenged? Neglected? Whichever type best fits your scenario, you can use your specific symptoms to create a game plan moving forward.

Many people struggle to overcome burnout on their own, and that’s okay. A psychologist can help you understand which form of burnout you’re experiencing and why. Most importantly, they can help you find realistic ways to cope with and overcome your burnout. 

You can overcome burnout

Burnout can be incredibly discouraging, especially if you once felt excited and motivated about your career. Fortunately, by recognizing what type of burnout you have, you can find ways to overcome it and get back to enjoying your life. Burnout won’t last forever, and the sooner you fight back against it, the happier you’ll be in your career and life!

Contact us today to take the first step in recovering from burnout.