Maybe from the stress of being around fake sick people all day?
By Carrie Vittitoe

Carrie’s daughter Ivy asked her to crochet a “rainbow afghan.” Photos by Patti Hartog

Several months ago, Carrie Bohnert watched a few YouTube videos and taught herself how to crochet. “Crochet is easy to pick up and put down, and I can do it safely around a rambunctious 3-year-old,” she says.

Carrie often has a difficult time quieting her mind. “I can’t just sit down and shut my brain off,” she says. “Needlework facilitates that zone-out process. It is meditative.” She admits she can get a little obsessive once she begins a new creative hobby. When she first began crocheting, she says, “All I wanted in the world were snow days so I could binge-watch Call the Midwife and crochet.”

It’s not like Carrie has lots of time; she is busy. She is the director of a standardized patient program at the University of Louisville Medical School. She trains healthy people to act out illnesses and injuries so that medical students have opportunities to safely practice medicine and be evaluated by their instructors. Carrie and her husband, Aaron Vowels, also have two young children, Ivy (7) and Joshua (3).

Carrie has long been a fan of needlework as a way to relax while keeping her mind busy. Her mother did needlepoint, and Carrie picked up the hobby when she was 14 years old. At first, she made keychains and eyeglass cases, but as an adult, she made her family’s Christmas stockings.

Carrie enjoys other types of needlework. In her craft room, Carrie and Ivy work on doll clothes for Ivy’s American Girl doll Julie. 

Another activity Carrie loves that engages her mind and brings her joy is leading her daughter’s Girl Scout troop. “It doesn’t feel like work to plan troop meetings,” she says. That’s due in part to her experience planning Girl Scout events when she worked at the Kentucky Science Center a decade ago.

Some of the girls in Carrie’s troop have special needs. For example, one has auditory processing disorder, while another is nonverbal and uses a wheelchair. Carrie plans the meetings to follow a basic pattern: a story, a fine motor activity, a gross motor activity, music, and a snack. “Being troop leader is a really meaningful way for me to interact with my daughter, and it is affirming to watch the girls interact,” she says.

If crocheting isn’t your thing, here are 16 other ways you can let go of stress.