Volunteering Abroad can be done, even if you have Anxiety.

What is Anxiety?

In accordance with the UK mental health charity Mind, anxiety is where you experience feelings of unease, worry and fear. Although these feelings are a natural part of our biological reaction when threatened, for some, anxiety can hinder regular day-to-day tasks. The term ‘anxiety’ has become a pressing issue over the years with some 6 million people in the UK alone experiencing it at some point in their lives and it affects 3.3 million people over the age of 18 in the U.S.

So why is Kaya Volunteer writing a blog on the matter? Well, for some people, anxiety becomes a barrier that stops you from doing what you desire for a number of personal reasons. We’ve chosen to write a blog on this subject to share with you how we can help you to overcome any anxiousness you may feel should you choose to volunteer or intern abroad with us, as it might be something you’ve thought about doing. Hopefully, this blog will also help to inspire you, not just to take the plunge and go travelling abroad, but to do other things that will ultimately expand your comfort zone too.

What’s making you anxious about volunteering abroad? Here’s how Kaya can help:

One of the initial worries might be the aspect of living away from home for a period of time where you will be away from friends and family in a brand new culture. If so, then we could go on to say that ‘this is part of the volunteering experience’ (which it is to be fair), but that’s not exactly helpful information for someone who might be feeling anxious on the matter. What might help you to dilute these feelings a little is to know that we can help you find a destination that will be right for you. For example, if you want to work on a project where there are plenty of other volunteers at the same time, or if you want to stay in a guesthouse instead of a homestay, we can help make the best recommendations. Whatever your preferences might be, we have many combo placements available that our advisors can help you chose from to make it as comfortable as possible for you.

Have you always had the desire to see the world, but not wanted to leave your place of sanctuary? Then you could travel with a buddy or your partner, which will help you keep that feeling of familiarity. Moreover, traveling to a nearby destination may also ease you out of your comfort zone. Ask a placement advisor to find out the nearest country to you.

You might experience far-fetched worries fuelled by searching for harrowing travel stories on the Internet. We would like to assure you that each and every project available with Kaya is vetted and checked out prior to being advertised on our website, so you will be sure to have a smooth and valuable experience with us. We also have a dedicated page for testimonials on our website from past Kaya volunteers as well as a recent blog post from a volunteer of ours which could help ease your mind on the matter.

If the thought of being homesick makes you feel anxious, or if you experience separation anxiety, but still want to volunteer abroad, then we can help you find a placement where you can easily contact your friends and family back home. Some of our projects have accommodation where there is WIFI available, like our projects in Cambodia, so you will be able to Skype your loved ones and tell them all about your volunteering experience and achievements. In addition to this, we can tailor your trip to a specific length of time so you don’t have to go working away for 5 weeks or more if you don’t want too. To start with, you could try your hand at volunteering abroad for just 2 weeks to make your way out of your comfort zone.

Another thought that might be running through your mind is the question: what if I have a panic attack whilst I’m there? Our Placement Advisors are here to help whether it’s before, during and after your trip abroad. Let them know if you have panic attacks and they can find a project that is right for you. You will also have support on the ground from the project leaders, so make sure to let those in charge know so they can help you if need be.

Other tips to help overcome your anxiety

Kaya team has come together to come up with a few tips to help manage your anxiety whilst you are volunteering abroad:

  • Be open with your anxiety and let the team on the ground know so they can help you.
  • Exercise regularly – we can point out the locations where there is a local gym nearby or facilities where you can exercise outside.
  • Meditate to keep a clear mind.
  • Get to know your host family and other volunteers on the project.
  • Remind yourself of why you want to travel and volunteer – you’re helping to contribute towards a bigger picture.
  • Remember, you can always catch a flight home.

And remember:

Travelling and volunteering is something to be enjoyed. Taking the time to research, budget, prepare and plan your trip can extensively help you to have a joyful experience.

If you want to chat to a placement advisor about volunteering abroad then be sure to request a call back, or request more information if you already have a project in mind.

“Kaya provides an incredible opportunity for engagement in a new country. From learning a new culture to participating in a completely different work environment, Kaya offers a unique experience in responsible travel. Even though I was alone at my placement, Kaya provided me an incredible support system in a new country. The on-site coordinators are always working to improve your situation, whether it be at your placement, in your homestay, or during free time. Kaya helped me to organize weekend excursions and connect me with other volunteers. I have nothing but good things to say about the Kaya presence in Cusco.”

Dante Domenella

Microfinance Volunteer Placement, Peru

“It is a totally different world out here but I have made the adjustments to living here. This complete experience is something I will never forget.” “The closeness and love my family showed me and the way I depended on them everyday is something I will take with me forever. It is clear that we experience different struggles in life but I believe that their is true beauty in the village Shandia and the way they handle adversity.”

Jacob Lujan

Fair Trade Internship in the Amazon Rainforest, Ecuador