The Power of Play and the Cultivation of Joy in Uncertain Times | The Nurse Keith Show

Caroline Cardenas, MSN, RNOn this special bonus episode of The Nurse Keith Show nursing career podcast, Keith interviews Caroline Cárdenas, MSN, MA, RN, CBCN. Ms. Cárdenas holds a Master of Science in Nursing Education from Walden University; a Master of Arts in Psychology from Meridian University; is a certified Breast Care Nurse through the Oncology Nursing Society (ONS); a 200hr Registered Hatha Yoga Teacher; a certified Elemental Hoop Dance Teacher; and a certified 5Elements Ecstatic Dance Facilitator.

Caroline has been an oncology nurse for over 15 years, working in Radiation Oncology, Head and Neck Nurse Coordination, Breast Medical Oncology, Hospice, Gastrointestinal Malignancies, Chemotherapy and Biotherapy Infusion, and Breast Surgical Oncology. Her Master’s Thesis “Hoop Dancing to Prevent and Decrease Burnout and Compassion Fatigue Among Nurses” has been published in the Journal of Emergency Nursing & the University of California San Diego Nursing Journal 2014. Caroline guides healthcare professionals to use joy replenishment through body and movement play as a powerful self-care practice and has offered Hoop Dancing classes for Self-Care Workshops at nurse’s retreats & women’s empowerment retreats. She offers an online Elemental Hoopdance Teacher Training and produces a yearly body and movement play retreat for adults in Hawaii, which promotes rest, healthy nutrition, and play to foster well-being.

Caroline has been hula-hooping (hoopdancing) for over 13 years. She believes that the experience of joy and the practice of play is our birthright. She speaks passionately about the power of body and movement play for self-care and the importance and necessity of team-play among healthcare professionals towards creating and fostering more trusting and healthier work environments for improved patient outcomes and enhanced work-life balance. In addition, Caroline is featured in James Redford’s documentary film, “Playing for Keeps”, where she speaks about her own journey of what inspired her to become an oncology nurse, her personal experience with burnout and compassion fatigue, her discovery of play through hula hooping, and how teaching hula hooping has inspired and cultivated joy within her community.

Caroline Cardenas, MSN, RN

Currently, Caroline is working on her Doctorate of Philosophy in Psychology at Meridian University, where she is writing her dissertation on “Play and its Effects on Burnout and Compassion Fatigue Among Healthcare Professionals”. Her vision is to continue to serve as a play researcher and advocate, an educator, clinical psychologist, and public speaker, as well as produce body and movement play retreats to guide women, breast cancer survivors, healthcare professionals, educators, nursing and medical students, and mothers all over the world to discover, explore, practice, protect, and share their unique creative expression through the sacred practice of play, with the focus and hope, to reawaken and foster purpose, meaning, and authentic connection through shared joy.

The Hula Hoop Girl at Windansea from The Hula Hoop Girl on Vimeo.

Selected highlights from Keith’s conversation with Caroline:

  • The concept of imaginal inquiry
  • Stuart Brown’s TED Talk on the seven properties of play
  • Affective neuroscience
  • Myth and Body by Stanley Keleman
  • Jamie Redford’s upcoming film “Playing for Keeps” featuring Ms. Cárdenas and Dr. Stuart Brown, the founder of the National Institute for Play
  • The concept of “central capability”, which is the capacity to sit in discomfort
  • The triune brain: 1) The Reptilian Complex; 2) The Paleo-Mammalian Brain; 3) the Neo-Mammalian Brain

You can find Ms. Cárdenas’ published work under the following links:

Get in touch with Caroline: 

Caroline Cardenas, The Hula Hoop Girl

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Nurse KeithIn case you didn’t already know, Nurse Keith is a holistic career coach for nurses, award-winning nurse blogger, writer, podcaster, keynote and motivational speaker, and popular career columnist. With two decades of nursing experience, Keith deeply understands the issues faced by 21st-century nurses. From 2012 until its sunset in 2017, Keith co-hosted RNFMRadio, a groundbreaking nursing podcast. Keith’s message of savvy career management and professional satisfaction reaches tens of thousands of nurses worldwide. Keith can be found on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram—as well as at

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