Knowing Your Burnout Type Is Vital To Healing From Burnout

I genuinely think everyone is suffering from one of the four burnout types right now. If you think you’re not, you might be and just don’t know it. 

I’ve talked with five different people just today about how hopeless, tired, worn out, and worn down they all feel. Whether it’s the January blues, SAD, or our overworked lives, we’re all feeling it. 

Burnout is so horrible because everyone reacts to it differently. We can’t just point a finger at one thing, say it’s burnout, and be done. It also can’t be treated like a normal illness. Burnout can take days, weeks, months, and sometimes even years to recover from. 

So how do you avoid burnout? You stop it before it can get to you. That’s easier said than done, so let’s start small. The first step is to identify the source of your burnout. We’re going to define the four different burnout archetypes and help you find your specific burnout type in order to pinpoint how you deal with stress. Can somebody say, ‘free therapy’?

One thing people don’t often associate burnout with is non-work-related things. Sure, maintaining a work/life balance is difficult, but your life isn’t just about work. You can experience burnout in your personal, social, romantic, academic, and physical life. Basically, any part of your life that might hold stress may result in burnout if you’re not careful. 

How do you burn out? Selina Barker, the author of Burnt Out, spoke about the burnout archetypes. She identified four: The overdoer, the overgiver, the overthinker, and the overachiever. 

If you haven’t already found your type just by reading the titles (can I be all of them?), Barker explains how to find it. 

There’s also no need to stress if you read through these archetypes and identify a bit with all of them or fully with only one of them. The important thing is to identify the truth in yourself and go forward from there.

The Overgiver

burnout types

Everyone relies on you because they know you’ll always be there for them. You’re always the caregiver and you sometimes (often) give a little too much. People come to you when they’re at their emotional limit, but you don’t have anyone to go to when you reach yours. 

This type often feels emotional and relational burnout the most. They often give so much of themselves and help others so much that there’s nothing left for their personal needs. 

Understand that you can’t pour from an empty glass. Give yourself the love you give to others, even if that means you need to press pause on taking care of others for a bit. 

While caregivers often feel rewarded by helping others (or they feel as though they have to help others in order to feel worthy), the reward will soon change to guilt and stress if you don’t take it easy. 

If you’re an overgiver, Barker advises you to “Spend quality time with yourself or quality time with others where you are receiving as much love as you give. Enjoy simple pleasures: things that make you laugh, are playful and creative that help you show as much love and care to yourself as you do to others.”

Remember that taking time for yourself isn’t selfish; it’s necessary.

The Overdoer

burnout types

While burnout can make some people shut down and shut off, this archetype overdoes and overworks. 

When the overdoer feels themselves slipping into burnout, they will overwork until they physically cannot work anymore. This burnout archetype is the one most people think of when they think of burnout. 

Barker remarks, “Overdoers are products of a culture that rewards hard work, progress and positivity, but dismisses stillness and rest.”

While we can’t blame everything on societal pressures, we sure can blame them for this. 

The overdoer is often the people pleaser and the ‘star student’ of the group. These people might need reassurance that they’re doing a good job and might even need permission to stop. 

Barker says, “Everyone suffering from burnout needs to rest, but probably none more than the overdoer. They need to create space for stillness, like a digital detox or reset day, and really step away from their to-do list and their phone. If you do have to be doing something, make sure it’s for enjoyment like cooking or drawing — not completing chores or tasks.”

This archetype will often trick themselves into working when they feel burnt out. Their reward system is often checking things off their lists. Ditch the list and force yourself to spend some quality time doing absolutely nothing productive.

The Overachiever

burnout types

You’re the one everyone at work looks up to. You have your one-year, four-year, and ten-year plan all set up. You’re often the leader and you rise to any occasion – that is, until you get burnt out. 

The overachiever is used to getting applauded at work, so much so that recognition becomes a necessity. They won’t stop working and achieving, even when it means that their mental health suffers. This archetype wrestles with the fear of failure more than any other type. 

The overachiever is always on and always performing, so when they burn out and can’t work, a huge part of their identity vanishes, too. They’ll experience a crisis when the ability to work (or overwork) is taken away from them and they can no longer achieve all that they think they have to. 

This is the type that will often get defensive if you ask to help. They need your help, but they can’t admit it. 

Barker suggests physical activities for this type. Things that you can’t measure or make goal-oriented. This can be anything from gardening, to crafting, to baking. Anything that won’t focus on closing your Apple Watch rings, completing a task, or finishing a goal. Barker recommends, “Anything that calms their nervous system and gives them the opportunity to focus on what is in front of them, and not always reach for the next project.”

This type needs to be calm, centered, and grounded. They need to ground their identity in themselves, not what they can do. Everything you can do is separate from who you are. Others can do your work, but no one else can be you and hold the same light you hold.

The Overthinker

burnout types

This type has never met a problem they couldn’t solve. Or at least a problem they couldn’t overthink. The overthinker is often the person people call when they need to, ‘talk something out’ or, ‘figure out a problem.’ They’re often wise and detail-oriented. 

But when they burn out, their problem-solving nature becomes more paranoid than helpful. There will always be problems to solve. There will always be ways to do things better and improve. But there will not always be time to sit and think about all of these problems. 

When the overthinker gets burnt out, they can’t think critically or clearly anymore. Think of a drunk man aiming for a dartboard. They’re throwing darts at problems that no one asked them to fix, and they’re missing horribly. The only problem is they can’t just turn their brain off. 

Overthinkers need to stop thinking and staying in their own heads. While this is easier said than done, it’s all about distraction. Barker suggests physical movement, so the overthinker can get out of their head and into their body. She also suggests brain games that will keep the overthinker active and alert, just not on all the problems of the world. 


Which burnout archetype are you? Did you identify with one of these archetypes or multiple of them? Comment below!

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