The Essential Mercury Retrograde Guide: Who, What, Where + Why You Should(nt) Care

Actual footage of me during Mercury Retrograde. Photo Courtesy of  @bundleofbo .

Actual footage of me during Mercury Retrograde. Photo Courtesy of @bundleofbo.

Chances are you’ve got both a pulse and an Instagram account, which means you’ve heard a thing or two about Mercury retrograde. Heck, you’ve probably seen thousands of memes by now (my personal favorite is the “Mercury’s in Gatorade” one).

Even if you're not super duper passionate or knowledgeable about astrology, you may know about the astrological theory that when a planet is retrograde, the parts of life it governs can become complicated. So when Mercury is retrograde — which occurs for several weeks at a time, three to four times a year — communication, technology, and transportation can become confused, and you might want to spend some time pausing and reflecting instead of rushing to make decisions. But even if you've never heard any of this stuff before, you probably still know that one of your friends will blame Mercury retrograde if your laptop decides it’s time to call it quits or your flight is severely delayed.

Pop culture is obsessed with leveraging Mercury's backward tour through the sky as a scapegoat for all things that go wrong in our lives. Contrary to popular belief (or memes), Mercury retrograde isn't a run of bad luck. It's actually astrology's way of forcing us to pause for a minute (ok, a few weeks) to really review, recheck and revisit the details.

Image courtesy of Pinterest. If you know the original artist, LMK, because I love their work!

Image courtesy of Pinterest. If you know the original artist, LMK, because I love their work!

Here’s the deal—we live in a very tech-focused world where texts, cell service and that reliable internet connection is everything. That means, Mercury, the planet of communication has got a pretty big job to do to ensure our lives go smoothly. So, when Mercury goes apeshit during its retrograde phase, its effects hit us in all the places where it can likely leave a bruise. I mean, the truth is, you’re probably reading this blog post on the phone you just booked a flight on, checked the subway schedule on, sent a racy snap to your FWB and are currently navigating your way to the hottest restaurant in town that you secured a seat at on that trust reservations app. Since our lives are so heavily ruled by technology it only makes sense that we feel sorely inconvenienced when our phone suddenly shuts down, a message gets lost in the “cloud”, or your travel schedule isn’t exactly punctual.

So, what does science have to say about Mercury retrograde? Well, the name is kind of deceptive. Retrograde doesn’t mean the planet actually reverses its orbit. Simply put, Mercury retrograde describes an optical illusion which makes it look as if the planet is moving backwards from our viewpoint on earth. During this perceived backwards motion, anything to do with communication, technology or contracts can get majorly screwed up.

Photo courtesy of Society19

Photo courtesy of Society19

Mercury is associated with communication, information, electronics, travel, and even clear thinking, so when it's retrograde we have to be ready for a slowdown in all of those areas. Things break. Projects stall. We lose things. Breakups happen. Schedules are thrown off, we get frustrated, we lash out and more breakdowns in communications follow. The effects of Mercury retrograde aren't all in your imagination - but it isn't all bad news either.

Mercury retrograde may feel like it's turning your whole world upside down…and it's kinda true. This aspect affects health, and career moves, but it also means different issues for each sign (we’ll get more into this another time, I realize I’m already throwing a lot of woo woo your way RN with this guide).

Knowing what to do and what to expect is one of the best ways to handle Mercury retrograde. So, let’s get right into it with a trusty Mercury Retrograde Survival Guide!

The Essential Mercury Retrograde Guide

How can you get Mercury retrograde to work for you instead of against you? First, take a deep breath. Despite the serious frustration and even terror that comes with a Mercury retrograde cycle, it's not the end of the world. While it may be an inconvenience to deal with it for close to three months every year, it's not unmanageable. You can sign contracts, make major financial decisions, or start a new job in this time period, but you should be careful. During this period, cross your t's and dot your i's - and double check everything.

Keeping certain do's and don'ts in mind during every interaction will be your protection through the Mercury retrograde season. This can be a rich period of creativity and connections, and if you can be flexible, not get buried in the details, and think big picture, you'll emerge without a scratch.

The Do's and Don'ts of Mercury Retrograde

DO:

  1. Brainstorm. Think of every available solution to the problems you're facing - one of them has to work eventually.

  2. Be flexible, adaptable, and patient. You may have to step outside of your comfort zone to come up with the right fix.

  3. Think in broad terms. The bigger and farther reaching the solution is, the more likely it is to work.

  4. Stay updated on delays and cancellations while traveling.

  5. Keep an eye on warning lights on your car's dash and stay on top of all regularly scheduled maintenance appointments to ensure things are running as smoothly as possible. Monitor the gas in the tank (that little arrow pointing to F or E might not be as accurate as you think).

  6. Back up your computer and phone so you don't lose important data if they shut down without warning.

  7. Revisit persistent issues from the past. You know that one thing that's really been on your mind lately? The one that keeps you up at night? This is the perfect time to address it and try to resolve it once and for all.

DON'T:

  1. Get into a negative thinking cycle. Things may be falling apart around you but staying positive and remembering that this is just a speed bump is going to help you get through it. You've got this, BFF!

  2. Do it alone. When things break, make an appointment with a professional to get them fixed and then sit tight rather than trying to impatiently DIY it.

  3. Exaggerate. Things are bad enough without stretching the truth, aren't they?! Chill out and stick to the facts. No need to embellish. After all, communication is already rough—you never know who will take your exaggeration seriously.

  4. Plan a big presentation or draft up important papers (especially legal documents). If you can't avoid tasks like this, pay close attention to the details.

  5. Rely only on technology. If you have an important meeting coming up, write down or print out info you know you'll need.

  6. Rush. Slowing down the pace can help you eliminate costly mistakes.

  7. Have unrealistic expectations. Because of misunderstandings and mix-ups, things may not turn out as you'd planned. Avoid disappointment by keeping expectations relatively low.

  8. Set unrealistic timelines. Red tape can keep documents in a holding pattern for a long, long time.

Mercury Retrograde’s Affect on Your Health and Mood

When you're stressed, you have a harder time getting to sleep - and during Mercury retrograde your stress and anxiety levels can be through the roof. Lying awake at night wondering how you could have prevented the day's mistakes or worrying about what could happen tomorrow will take a toll on your health.

And to make matters worse, sleep deprivation can cause even more problems like being tired, anxious and distracted, only furthering the effects of Mercury retrograde! Your exercise routine can also be thrown off by gym equipment malfunctioning or the battery on your activity tracker dying. Meals can even become problematic if the fridge or freezer breaks down, stove malfunctions or microwave freaks out. The following are some tips to keep your body and mind in top shape during Mercury retrograde.

Do’s and Don’ts for Taking Care of Your Body and Mind During Retrograde Season

DO:

Make sure your alarm is set properly before going to bed so that you don't wake up late and feel rushed.

Listen to quiet music, put on noise-canceling headphones, or wear a sleep mask - anything that will shut out distractions, let you drift off to sleep and have peaceful dreams.

Plan a digital detox. If there's ever a great time to take a break from your electronics and close out of your social media apps, it's Mercury retrograde.

Practice some breathing exercises to utilize when you're having a technology or travel snafu. There's no use getting worked up about something you can't control.

DON'T:

Plan elaborate meals using fancy kitchen gadgets.The simpler the better.

Watch the news or violent TV shows/movies right before bedtime.

Use your phone or other bright electronic devices in bed.

Drink caffeine or eat anything spicy that might keep you up past your bedtime.