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How to survive three weeks of communication and technology breakdowns without having a nervous breakdown.

Ever have a week when nobody understands you? Your cell phone erases itself, people argue over nonsense, traffic sucks, and your computer crashes as you’re typing the last sentence of your Great American Novel. Flights are delayed or cancelled, or you forget your passport at home on the way to Mexico. Plans change without warning and your friends stand you up. Even if you’re already a drama queen, this is just BEYOND.

Chances are, you’re smack in the middle of Mercury retrograde.

What IS Mercury retrograde, really?

Three or four times a year, Mercury passes the earth in its orbit. As it rounds the bend, Mercury slows down and appears to stop (station) and spin backward (retrograde). Of course, it really ISN’T moving backward, but much like two trains or cars passing each other, this creates the optical illusion that one (Mercury, in this case) is going backward.

cat-dino-screamIn astrology, Mercury rules communication, travel, and technology—so all of these areas go haywire for about three weeks.

To top it off, Mercury retrograde also has what’s called a “shadow period” (which we explain in this post about Mercury’s shadow), so you may feel the retrograde a couple weeks before and after it actually happens.

So how not to have a nervous breakdown? Don’t start anything new. Review all your contracts before you sign. Renew your commitments, rather than making new ones. Prepare to repeat yourself often. It’s like learning a new dance. Or something.

Note to all 21st-century dwellers: Mercury retrograde can crash electronic equipment. Back up your computer, calendar and cell phone address book. Expect delays if traveling, and pack a book to entertain yourself while you wait for the tardy bus or plane. Get in touch with old friends – and don’t be surprised if people from your past track you down. You might hear from the most RANDOM ex-boyfriends and childhood classmates during retrogrades. Mercury also rules contracts, so think before you ink. Either wrap up important negotiations before the cycle starts, or wait to sign documents until Mercury goes direct.

If you were born during a Mercury retrograde (which we were), you may actually become sharper, clearer or more productive during this time. You won’t be immune to Mercury’s global impact (we once had a hard drive systematically erase itself before our eyes during Mercury retrograde), but you could also thrive in areas where others are flailing (almost every big writing contract and book deal we’ve gotten was offered during Mercury retrograde). You might even become more psychic or dialed-in during Mercury’s backspin. How do you find out if you were born during Mercury retrograde? Do a free chart on our site and you can find out instantly.

Mercury retrograde do’s and don’ts.


1. Review all contracts and legal documents before signing.

2. Pause and breathe before speaking. (Repeat yourself if necessary!)

3. Read all emails and documents before you send.

4. Insure/track important mail and packages (Mercury rules the postal system).

5. Get your vehicles (or bikes) tuned up, pack an emergency roadside kit.

6. Leave early for any travel and appointments, since Mercury Rx can delay flights.

7. Renew your commitments instead of making new ones.

8. Focus on the prefix re-, which means to go backward (renew, review, revamp, redecorate, et al.)

9. Plan reunions with old friends & loved ones (but prepare for possible mishaps!)

10. Expect to hear from/run into people from your past at the weirdest moments.

11. Get sentimental. Reconnect with your roots, walk down memory lane.

12. Practice forgiveness. Finish processing what’s unresolved so you can let it go.

13. Confirm all dates, plans, meetings, appointments.

14. Think of the retrograde as a quarterly review period, a chance to pause and finish what you’ve started.

15. Back up your digital data (photos, contact lists, files) before the retrograde or ASAP if it’s started.


1. Buy new vehicles, electronic equipment or gadgets (unless they come with a good return/repair policy).

2. Sign contracts without a thorough review (delay until Mercury turns direct if you can).

3. Fly off the handle or jump to conclusions if someone misunderstands you.

4. Run into the arms/bed of an ex without careful screening (Mercury reunions aren’t always meant to last).

5. Shoot the messenger if someone from your past comes around.

6. Put anything sketchy into an email or text (you could hit “Reply All” or send to the wrong person!).

7. Leave late for flights or appointments.

8. Start anything new on top before finishing what’s ahead on the to-do list.

9. Lead people on, give mixed messages, or believe everything you hear (actions speak louder than words).

10. Spread rumors, rant on social media or share unconfirmed information.

11. Turn in sloppy or unchecked work, cut corners, dash off hasty communications. Inspect to protect!

The silver lining? Mercury retrograde is a great opportunity to handle unfinished business. Most of us start a million things that we don’t complete, never realizing how much psychic clutter this creates. The retrograde is like a quarterly review, a chance to tie up those loose ends and create a clear vision for the future. Take advantage of it, and you’ll emerge fresh and ready when Mercury goes direct. As the cliche goes, what you resist persists. So the more you can embrace chaos or a lack of control (and isn’t control an illusion, anyhow?), the better you’ll survive this cycle.

Images via WeHeartIt.