Yes, you're burnt out, but is it neglect burnout or under-challenged burnout?

The term 'burnout' is one that is often thrown around when someone is feeling tired and exhausted – but what exactly is burnout?

It's not just one thing, it turns out.

When we picture burnout, we envision someone who is overwhelmed with responsibilities and drowning in other people's demands.

Watch: How to spot and combat burnout. Post continues below.

Video via Mamamia.

However, it's a bit more complicated than that.

While burnout does leave people feeling exhausted, it manifests itself in different ways depending on a person's lifestyle, work environment and capacity. In fact, burnout can be so diverse, that it's been categorised into three different types.

So let's take a look at each type of burnout, and how you can avoid falling victim to them.

Overload burnout.

According to Harvard Business Review, overload burnout is when you frantically try to achieve your goals, without thinking about your health and wellbeing. This is the most common form of burnout, and it's the one people recognise the most.


Overload burnout usually impacts those who are extremely dedicated to their job, often forcing them to work in a way that's just not sustainable. This then leaves them feeling drained both physically and mentally.

Those who experience overload burnout are more inclined to complain about how tired they are, and can make their situation worse by assigning themselves more responsibilities, thinking it will solve the problem.


  • You prioritise other people's needs before your own.

  • You dedicate too much time to your career and ambitions – more than what is considered healthy.

  • You neglect your personal life for your professional life.

How to get out of it:

There are two steps to overcoming overload burnout, and the first is to develop stronger emotional regulation skills.

This is when you can put a label on exactly what you're feeling, and can reframe negative self-talk.

So, if you're someone who is working from morning to night, with no breaks or time for yourself, instead of telling yourself you need to hustle to be successful, you can shift your mindset and say, "the more I enjoy my life, the more successful I’ll be.".

Second, don't put all your eggs in one basket. It's important to devote your time to different areas of your life, instead of solely focusing on work. Step away from your computer and take part in things that you enjoy.

Under-challenged burnout.

Burnout doesn't only prey on people who do too much, it can also affect those who do too little. Under-challenged burnout is when your brain isn't stimulated enough, leaving you unmotivated and bored.

People experiencing this type of burnout often feel underappreciated and stunted, because their job lacks growth and learning opportunities. 


Under-challenged burnout usually affects those who are working in a monotonous job that lacks passion, resulting in the person becoming cynical and bitter. They usually fight off the stress by distracting themselves or suppressing their thoughts.


  • You find it hard to push yourself to finish an assignment or task.

  • You aren’t feeling fulfilled in your job.

  • You think you’re destined for greater things, and your job isn’t going to help you get there.

How to get out of it:

Under-challenged burnout is difficult to tackle, because when you feel that unmotivated, it's hard to focus on anything. This is why it's important to set small goals and take each day as it comes. 

A small goal can be learning a new language, where you spend 20 minutes a day practicing. Or maybe you can take out an hour a week to take part in a hobby. Whatever it is, just make sure you don't go too hard, because it will end up having the opposite effect.

Neglect burnout.

Neglect burnout is exactly what the name suggests – it's when your workplace has neglected you, and failed to give you the proper guidance required for you to excel in your role. You might find it hard to keep up with the pace of your workplace and you're struggling to meet expectations.

This results in people feeling unworthy and incompetent. Overtime, those who are experiencing neglect burnout just stop trying altogether, as they feel incapable and helpless.


  • You give up easily, especially when something at work doesn't go the way you thought it would.

  • You hate waking up in the morning and going to work.

  • You don't have the motivation to overcome challenges.

How to get out of it:

When it comes to neglect burnout, there are two parties that need to take responsibility: the person who is experiencing it, and their workplace.

For the person who is in the thick of it, learning how to delegate and say no – basically setting better boundaries – is key to coming out on the other side.


"Boundaries keep us well by communicating to others when we do or do not want to do something, or how much we are willing to give to a certain task or request. Boundaries look like declining offers to do things for people or to accept social invitations when we are already at capacity," psychologist Carly Dober tells Mamamia.

It's also crucial that your workplace acts as a support system, instead of shaming you for feeling the way you're feeling.

"Workplaces have a responsibility to ensure that they are modelling positive mental health attitudes like not expecting people to be always contactable, to take their annual leave, and to use their sick leave when needed," says Dober. 

"Managers need to be approachable, and to ensure that they are not demanding that their employees complete work that is vague, but they do not have adequate time for, ensure that they take their breaks, and that they provide a supportive environment full of praise and career progression."

Outside of work, try creating routines that help clear your mind, such as journalling or meditation. 

Feature Image: Getty.

If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health, please reach out to SANE Australia on 1800 187 263.