Blog Archive - December 2008
December 15, 2008
I took my youngest grandson to visit Santa on Saturday. It was his first face-to-face exposure to Santa so we rehearsed a bit in the car on the way to the bank (interesting hang out for Santa Claus, don’t you think?) I emphasized the importance of clearly stating your name (Alex) and knowing your age (2) and being concise with your request (“toys”). Alex already knew the expected greeting from Santa (Ho Ho Ho). This Santa was a youthful guy in a men’s size– medium red suit with a generally believable beard and classic glasses. His “Ho, Ho, Ho” was not very hearty and didn’t seem to come from deep in his slim belly.
Got me thinking: A genuine laugh, known as a belly laugh, where you engage your abdominal muscles with repetitive waves of “ha, ha, ha’s” is really healthy. Here is the physiologic reality: when your mood is sad or depressed – your immune system also becomes depressed too leaving you vulnerable to infection. Generally, we want to think that the holidays are a happy time of the year, but mental health professionals report that this is prime time for clinical depression as well as transient seasonal depressed moods. These “downer” moods are generated by the expectations of the holidays, the weather, an increase in the ratio of hours of darkness to the hours of sunlight, alcohol consumption and over consumption and remembrances of family and friends who are absent or deceased – and become contributing factors to the increase in incidence of infections this time of year. That is the depressing reality but on the on the brighter side: 10 minutes a day of belly laughing can turn your mood around.
Do you suppose Santa Claus knows this or is he just a naturally happy guy?
Well, Alex’s visit with Santa was short and sweet and the dialog went as rehearsed with one exception/addition: Alex asked for toys to be delivered to his house and also to my house (so my toy box will be refreshed too). As we drove home with candy canes on our breath, Alex suggested we go back and “do it again” – to which I responded with a riotous round of “Ho, Ho, Ho’s and Ha, Ha, Ha’s” and we both belly-laughed all the way home. It felt great. See, infection prevention can be fun!