What Kind of Burnout Are You?

We’re past week 6 already, and I’m sure some of you are feeling the heat with those first assignments looming. Don’t fret, there’s plenty more where that came from. Just relax – don’t wear yourself out too quick! You might get burnt out before anything stressful actually happens.

Research recently published in the journal PloS One by psychologists and mental health professionals from the University of Zaragoza, Spain and the Universidade Federale de Sao Paulo in Brazil, has managed to categorise and identify sub dimensions for different types of burnout, including the sorts of behaviours people resort to when burned out.

‘Burnout’ is essentially the psychological state in which someone feels exhausted or disinterested in their work as a result of enduring stressful working conditions, but using ineffective coping strategies to deal with the stress. There are three main types of burnout depending on how dedicated people are to their work. These types are listed below, in order of descending dedication.

The ‘frenetic’ burnout type becomes overly exhausted as a result of working too hard in search of success. This type of burnout mainly stems from being too involved, highly ambitious and overloading themselves with taking on more work than they can realistically complete. In this case, individuals risk their personal well-being and social life to attain success – and often feel utterly exhausted as a result.

The ‘under-challenged’ burnout comes about when the worker has to cope with completing menial and monotonous tasks, in an unstimulating environment that provides minimal to no satisfaction. Generally, the ‘under-challenged’ feels indifferent and bored out of their minds. Typically, this type of burnout occurs when the individual feels there is absolutely no potential for personal development – they’re essentially wasting their time. Why should they do something that doesn’t improve themselves, or their lives, in any way?

Finally, the ‘worn-out’ burnout just does not care any more. They don’t acknowledge anything, and simply neglect the problem or their work. A ‘worn-out’ person just gives up when faced with stress, or feels unappreciated. You’ll feel it eventually in your uni life – those moments where you just don’t give a toss about that essay and can’t be arsed doing anything at all.

The researchers note that “in the long term, the key factor for developing burnout syndrome seems to be the degree of passivity that the individual acquires.”

So have a re-read of the burnout types above, and try to figure out which one you are. And when the time comes, you might be able to actively recognise when you’re feeling burnt out and need a break. Go chat to a mate, hit the gym, read a book, or do something you actually want to do. Then maybe you might be able to finish that essay and bounce back.