In one of my favorite books I read to my first graders, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good Very Bad Day, Alexander woke up with bubble gum stuck in his hair, tripped over his skateboard on the way to the bathroom and dropped his sweater accidentally in the sink of running water. He knows for sure, “It’s going to be a terrible, no good very bad day.”


My first graders readily identified with Alexander as he moved throughout his day. He didn’t get a cool prize out of the cereal box. He had to sit in the middle seat between his two siblings, which made him car sick.  His teacher doesn’t like his picture of his “invisible” castle and the music teacher insisted he sang too loud.  He finally declared he was moving to Australia.

By the end of the day, after many terrible, no good very bad day events, his mother reassures him that everyone has bad days, even in Australia.

Would you like to move to Australia?

On those terrible, no good very bad days, wouldn’t you like to move to Australia or anywhere but where you are?  Escape often seems preferable to where you are at the moment, as Alexander noted.

Now I personally have lovely friends in Australia and would love to visit them.  However, I don’t think visiting them would take away my terrible, no good very bad days, do you?

That flight response is our brain’s protective reaction when trouble occurs.  Move away from what is troubling or uncomfortable.  However, being prepared for those no good, very bad days can save you and me, perhaps a ticket to Australia!

Prepare a self-care kit

When faced with that kind of day, when everything you touch seems to go wrong, having a self-care kit can reduce your flight or fight response and actually act as your pre-decided line of defense. Self-care is the practice of consciously doing things that preserve or improve your mental or physical health. 

With everything going on with our families, our cities and our country, recognizing the need for self-care and being intentional can bring long-term dividends for yourself and those you serve.

When things are not going well, your brain also is not in thinking mode.  Having a self-care kit ready, like a first-aid kit, gives you choices that you have pre-decided will be helpful. Your self-care kit can be used regularly to hopefully prevent emergency use.  However, it is readily available for emergency use as well when unexpected no good, very bad things occur as well.

This is what Jesus reminds us in Matthew 11:28-29, TPT

“Are you weary, carrying a heavy burden? Then come to me. I will refresh your life, for I am your oasis. Simply join your life with mine.Learn my ways and you’ll discover that I’m gentle,humble, easy to please. You will find refreshment and rest in me.

Having Jesus as a focus, listening to His guidance when preparing our self-care kit and giving ourselves permission, will show us the way to handle our terrible, no good very bad days.

What goes in a self-care kit?

Everyone’s self-care kit will look slightly different. You want to keep in mind how you are made.  However, the principles behind the kit include:

  • Bible, breathe prayers, other devotionals
  • A sensory component – think of what will soothe your taste, touch, sight, hearing, smell, movement and comforting pressure
  • Examples for those sensory components could be – hot chocolate or favorite tea, fuzzy animal, photos of family or special places you’ve visited, special music, lavender or eucalyptus oil, rocking chair, weighted blanket
  • Journal, adult coloring book, colored pencils
  • Other simple hobbies, crochet, knitting, watercolors, whatever brings you creative pleasure
  • All put together in a beautiful bag or basket, ready at a moment’s notice, sitting by that favorite chair
  • Time in a bottle – realizing you can and need to take time to be still and find refreshment in Jesus

What about you? 

When something throws you off-kilter, will you have your self-care kit ready?  How can you be prepared for your “terrible, no good, very bad days?”

As Alexander’s mom noted,

Some days are like that. Even in Australia. 

I hope you’ll take up the challenge to prepare your self-care kit and spend time resting with Jesus.  He promises refreshment and rest.  I know I am writing to myself this time.  I’ll let you know how my kit turns out!



As a spiritual director, I walk with people who want to hear and see God more clearly in their lives. If this post is helpful to you, could you share it with others?  Or if there is a way that I can be praying specifically for you, would you reply to this post?  I want to be of service to you in your life and the lives of others.  I look forward to walking with you in the world “for such a time as this.”