Your Mercury Retrograde Survival Guide

Mercury is in retrograde until February 19, 2021—meaning you’ll likely hear people blaming their bad mood or behavior on the planets. But what does it mean when Mercury goes into retrograde, and why does it seem to affect the way we act and feel?

What is Mercury Retrograde?

Mercury, the closest planet to the sun, speeds past Earth approximately three to four times per year. Viewed from Earth, this results in an optical illusion where Mercury’s orbit appears to move backward, known as retrograde motion.

Astrologists believe that the planet Mercury, like its Roman namesake, governs transportation and communication. As a result, Mercury’s retrograde orbit disrupts usual patterns of travel and behavior. We expect chaos in these aspects of our lives. Our WiFi or our car might struggle to function. Or our close relationships may be strained by a communication breakdown.

How Mercury Retrograde Affects You

In addition to interrupting the flow of our everyday lives, Mercury retrograde can affect our mood, our energy, and even our sleep. The “backward” movement of the planet can lead to heightened stress and anxiety—especially if we experience unexpected obstacles throughout the day.

It’s not just about hunkering down and bearing through this season, though. Astrologists say if you can learn to navigate these frustrations with patience and flexibility, Mercury retrograde can be a period of real creativity and connection. Try brainstorming creative solutions to the problems you are facing during this time to ignite your artistic sensibility.

Tips for Surviving Mercury Retrograde

  1. Keep an eye on electronics. Technology is prone to breaking during Mercury retrograde. Now is not the time to skip out on maintenance. Make sure you update your phone and laptop when prompted, schedule that oil change or car inspection, and consider setting a backup alarm for waking up in the morning.
  2. Practice good sleep hygiene. Mercury retrograde can interfere with getting a good night’s rest, but practicing good sleep hygiene helps negate its effects.
    • Sleep in a cool, quiet, dark room.
    • Avoid caffeine sources (including chocolate) six hours before bed.
    • Turn off electronics at least 30 minutes before bed.
    • If you still can’t fall asleep, deep breathing exercises or melatonin may help.
  3. Read the fine print. Mercury retrograde may be one of the least ideal times to make big decisions like signing legal documents or giving a big presentation at work. Sometimes these activities are unavoidable, though—good luck pushing back a project because of Mercury’s retrograde. If you can’t put off monumental decisions until after February 19, make sure to pay extra close attention to detail during your preparations.
  4. Avoid miscommunications. During Mercury retrograde, avoid the temptation to speak without thinking. Miscommunication can easily backfire if you aren’t careful. Avoid sharing unconfirmed information—at least until Mercury returns to its normal orbit.
  5. Slow down. Don’t fight the slowdowns that Mercury retrograde inflicts; embrace them. Now is the perfect time to take a break from social media, catch up on old emails, and, most importantly, practice self-care.
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