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Drexel Faculty Experts Explain How to Survive and Thrive During the Holidays

December 01, 2016

holiday stress

The holiday season can be a time of excitement and stress. Here are some tips on handling all of it.

It’s that time of year again. The physical, emotional, financial and gastrointestinal strains posed by the holiday season can make it feel like more of a slog than a restorative hiatus. So, as an early gift from the Drexel media relations team, we’ve sifted through the University’s stable of experts to find those best suited to provide some advice on how to make this season a joyous one.


Here are a few tips from Rosemary Trout, a professor in the Center for Hospitality and Sport Management, to help get the bird just right — whether you’re a basting ace or a first time stuffer.

  1. If frozen, allow enough time for defrosting meat slowly in your refrigerator. Never defrost poultry on your counter.
  2. Don’t wash your poultry – there’s no need, and you don’t want to spread bacteria all over your sink.
  3. Refrigerate leftover meat within two hours – it will make a great (and safe) sandwich the next day.
  4. If you’re deep frying, always do it outside (preferably with a warm mug of apple cider). 


Neilanjan Nandi, MD, a gastroenterologist and assistant professor in Drexel’s College of Medicine, knows that with so much good food around the holidays it can be tempting to overeat. Here are some suggestions for avoiding the aches and pains of overeating, and things to consider about its long-term health effects.

“Eating too much during a single meal can lead to severe acid reflux, and more padding around the midsection can cause marked neck strain and back pain, too.”

Holiday fare
  1. To avoid biting off more than you can chew at a holiday feast, drink plenty of water.
  2. Take time to chew your food and enjoy all the flavors; and eat your vegetables, which are full of phytonutrient goodness and fiber that keep you fuller longer.
  3. If you are at a smorgasbord, and you know you want to enjoy all those goodies, try to take only a quarter of what you are craving from each dish. You’ll get to taste everything while limiting your calories.
  4. If you do end up overeating, drink more water, which is critical to digestion, and stay upright for at least two to three hours. Lying down immediately can make it easier for stomach acid to reflux into your chest, causing painful heartburn. Also, inactivity slows down our digestion process.

Stella Volpe, PhD, professor and chair of the department of nutrition sciences in the College of Nursing and Health Professions, also has some ideas about healthy ways to approach the holidays.

  1. When going to holiday parties, start with healthier foods first and try to keep from standing near the food tables — you will tend to eat more if the food is in reach.
  2. Have an apple or other piece of fruit prior to going to a holiday party, which will fill you up for a little.
  3. Ensure that you keep your exercise routine through the holidays. 


Rajneesh Suri, a professor of marketing in LeBow College of Business, suggests that with companies on edge, customers could win this year—even if they miss the big discount days. Suri speculates that unstable economic times put pressure on retailers to price products low enough to hit their sales numbers. Suri studies consumer behavior and can talk about trends in holiday purchasing and the decisions made at the executive level to help harness them.

online shopping

“The biggest fear for executives this holiday season will be reaching their sales target for the season. Retailers need to make smart pricing decisions and overcome the self-defeating exercise of trying to top every competitor’s price and fret about losing sales during the holiday season and beyond. Advanced data analytics can help understand when customers will notice prices and for which product categories. Using neuroscience, Suri and Drexel researchers have been able to provide insights into our own research on the effectiveness of creative marketing communications and whether certain price presentations can cause consumers to notice or ignore prices.”

Faculty members from Drexel’s Isaac L. Auerbach Cybersecurity Institute have some suggestions to keep you—and your identity—safe while shopping online this season:

  1. Exercise caution when connecting to public wi-fi spots such as coffee shops or cafes, do not assume the connection is secure unless you need a password to connect.
  2. When shopping online make sure the website’s “checkout” page URL begins with “https” before you input any of your payment information.
  3. Avoid clicking promotional links in emails—instead, type the URL into your browser or go to the business’s site from the search link.


Robert D’Ovidio, PhD, an associate professor of sociology and criminal justice in Drexel’s College of Arts and Sciences, reminds us to be careful when making donations online.

  1. Watch out for requests via email and through social media sites for donations from fake charities. If you are going to donate this holiday season, go directly to the website of a charity.
  2. Make sure you log out of any accounts you’ve accessed online when you’re done with the interaction. Be cautious when you allow a site or a browser to remember your information or keep you logged in, if someone else is using your computer they can access your accounts.
  3. Do no reuse the same password and user name across multiple sites. If your information is compromised it is likely that hackers will try your credentials to log in to other sites.


C. Virginia O’Hayer, PhD, a psychologist and clinical associate professor in the College of Medicine, wants to help you deal with the holiday blues that often feel inevitable this time of year.

“Holidays can force an expectation to be in a ‘holly jolly’ mood, when, for many of us, this can be an isolating time of the year. For those without family or friends nearby, isolation, depression and anxiety are often exacerbated, and the risk for relapse to drug and alcohol problems is high.”

  1. Keep things manageable. Don’t dwell on the past or romanticize it. Focus instead on managing the present moment.
  2. It’s also important to acknowledge your feelings. It’s okay to feel out of sync with the holiday.
  3. Though feelings of depression may entice you to stay at home, instead, force yourself to make a social plan, exercise and get out of the house. Even going alone to a public place — like church, a library or coffee shop, could help mitigate feelings of loneliness.

  4. Volunteering at a local homeless shelter or soup kitchen is a great way to connect with others and find enjoyment during this season.