There Are 7 Types of Burnout. Here’s How to Identify (and Deal with) Each

types of burnout cat

Between work, family obligations, the ongoing pandemic and a multitude of other stressors, life can get overwhelming, often leading to burnout. Now officially recognized by the World Health Organization (WHO) as an “occupational phenomenon,” burnout is “a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.” But beyond that fairly generic definition, there are seven identifiable types of burnout. Read on for more about each types from Rachael Todd, a burnout and spiritual coach and founder of Return To Flow, coaching for “high achievers who want to abandon the hustle and embrace a new way of working.”

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1. The Overachiever 

Todd tells us that the one of the main marks of an overachiever is chasing the product rather than enjoying the process. This person craves praise for their achievements, feels guilty if they’re not working on something and always seems to be chasing after something with no end in sight.  All of this can lead to distorted and unrealistic expectations of yourself and others (the others part comes in when the overachiever judges a “healthy” schedule as unambitious or lazy).

Todd’s advice for overachievers: “Enjoy the journey to reaching your goals by prioritizing process over product and quality over quantity.” 

2. The Taskmaster

The taskmaster, Todd tells us, focuses too much on doing instead of being. They judge themselves for not working hard enough, believe that the harder they push, the more likely they are to succeed and they place an intense focus on discipline.

Todd’s advice for taskmasters: “Monitor how you feel and how much you accomplish when you are slightly more relaxed about getting everything done.” 

3. The Perfectionist

We all know this person, who believes that anything less than perfect (whatever that even means) is a failure. The perfectionist never allows themselves to make any mistakes, has trouble completing projects because they always think there’s a way to make it better and they have an all or nothing mentality, meaning they think you’re either successful or not—no gray area.

Todd’s advice for perfectionists: “Use your ideals as guides, not absolutes, and aim for 80 percent rather than 100 percent.”

4. The Micromanager

Also known as a controller, a micromanager struggles to trust anyone else to get things done. Because of this, they take on the job alone, believing that old adage that if you want it done right you have to do it yourself. This not only leads to fatigue from taking on all the work, but also resentment for the people they deem unable to pull their own weight. 

Todd’s advice for micromanagers: “Practice delegating small tasks. Start with activities that drain your energy and are not aligned with your strengths and skills.” 

5. The Competitor

Is there anything more important in life than winning? Not to competitors, Todd says. These folks do whatever it takes to win or succeed, constantly compare themselves to others and get upset about others’ successes (or secretly wish failure on them). Along the way, they often alienate those people whose wins they’re jealous of and work themselves to exhaustion to get ahead.

Todd’s advice for competitors: “Make a point to recognize the unique qualities and strengths in yourself and others.”

6. The People Pleaser

No huge surprise here, but people pleasers are obsessed with, well, pleasing other people, going so far as to believe that bending over backwards to say yes to every little ask will avoid disappointing or hurting the people around them. This leads to difficulties in setting boundaries, overwhelming fear of making someone mad and doing what everyone else wants even if it doesn’t suit their best interests.

Todd’s advice for people pleasers: “Remember saying no to something is saying yes to something else.”

7. The Ruminator 

There’s occasionally overthinking, and then there’s believe that focusing intently on a problem will solve it. The latter is a trademark of a ruminator, who Todd describes as someone who spends more time thinking than doing and gets stuck in minutia. Ruminators often have trouble sleeping (because their brains won’t shut off) and spend a lot of time worrying about things they have no control over.

Todd’s advice for ruminators: “Spend time everyday practicing a mindfulness activity to keep you in the present moment.”

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sarah stiefvater

Wellness Director

Sarah Stiefvater is PureWow's Wellness Director. She's been at PureWow for ten years, and in that time has written and edited stories across all categories, but currently focuses...