When people think about "burnout," they often assume it means you're overbooked and exhausted — but burnout is far more nuanced than just being busy or overwhelmed.
In 2019, the World Health Organization classified burnout as a syndrome that results from chronic workplace stress that's not successfully managed. Burnout is characterized by three symptoms: feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion, negativity or cynicism related your job and reduced professional efficacy.
According to Emily Ballesteros, a burnout management coach in Chicago, there are three different types of burnout with unique causes.
Burnout can be hard for people to identify in their daily lives, Ballesteros tells CNBC Make It. "We're so rarely given the opportunity to sit in a quiet room and reflect on: What do I really need? How do I know if my quality of life is slipping?" she says. As a burnout management coach, she works one-on-one with professionals who want to improve work-life balance, develop time-management skills, manage stress and set boundaries.
Here's what you need to know about the different types of burnout and how to spot the signs:
The 3 types of burnout
Burnout by volume: This is the type of burnout that most people are familiar with, and it's the most common, Ballesteros says. It's characterized by constantly being booked back-to-back, having no time or energy for yourself and feeling completely exhausted, she says.
How to help: "Data doesn't lie," Ballesteros says. Track at least three of your workdays, and record exactly how long you're spending on different tasks, she says. "Then, objectively review your data — don't beat yourself up if you find you accidently disappear into your phone for two hours," she says. Then, identify the areas you want to change, she says.
Burnout by boredom: We often associate burnout with working too much, but it can also happen when you're not being challenged or feel just plain bored and need a change.
Often when people feel uninspired by their lives, they don't know where to begin to make changes, so they feel stuck or paralyzed, Ballesteros says. "If you told a person who feels burned out by boredom, 'your life is going to look exactly like this a year from now,' they would have a full-on meltdown, because they are that unsatisfied," she says.
How to help: If your job is boring to you, it's important to find areas of your life where you do feel engaged and challenged, Ballesteros says. She suggests making a list of what your ideal life would look like in different categories: business, health, lifestyle and personal. Choose which are the most significant to you, and pinpoint day-to-day changes that you can make to reach your goal.
Burnout by socialization: People pleasers are often susceptible to burnout because they "would rather be uncomfortable than potentially make somebody else uncomfortable," Ballesteros says. People pleasers are natural "givers," they may struggle to say "no" to obligations and attract people who make a lot of demands, she says. As a result, "they're constantly socially drained," she says.
How to help: Creating boundaries and getting better at saying "no" are key to burnout management, especially for people pleasers, Ballesteros says. Instead of automatically saying "yes," it's important to communicate to your manager that you may not have the resources because your workload is already unsustainable, she says. "It's not you saying, 'I can't do my job,'" she says. "It's just expressing, 'If you keep wanting to see this kind of quality from me, you're going to have to reduce the quantity."
Signs of burnout
Regardless of the type or root cause, burnout typically manifests as a combination of internal and external symptoms, Ballesteros says.
"Internal signs can include emotional exhaustion, cynicism, detachment from your work and your life, feeling ineffective in your role and feeling drained before you even begin have anxiety," she says. People often experience "really extreme Sunday scaries, overall pessimism and loss of motivation."
The external signs that you're experiencing burnout include physical exhaustion and pain, insomnia, lowered immunity — meaning you get sick more often — increased food drug and alcohol use and a change in diet, she says.
Those with burnout might be drawn to procrastination, isolation and escapism, which is when you use distractions as a shield to escape responsibilities. You might also struggle with forgetfulness, impaired concentration and increased irritability, she adds.