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Greetings from my tired, broken body. The first Mercury retrograde of this decade will occur on February 16 through March 9—and I, for one, am already feeling it. Even though it’s only two months into the new year, it feels like quite a bit has happened already. That said, get ready, because this Mercury retrograde will likely keep us moving at this faster pace.
If you aren’t familiar, Mercury retrograde occurs when Mercury passes the Earth on its typical rotation, and the angle makes it appear to be smaller and moving backward. It’s just an illusion—celestial Photoshop, so to speak. But it’s effects are as real as can be!
While this retrograde comes equipped with all the typical characteristics of a retrograde, it also sets a precedent—for ourselves, our patterns, and our perception of the world at large. How will we choose to work on ourselves, and navigate the differences between our thoughts and feelings? Thoughts and feelings are different, after all, and taking the time to distinguish a thought versus a feeling can help mediate the conflicts and anxiety that are bound to come up when communication is obstructed or expectations aren’t met.
So, what might this look like IRL? Maybe it’s an internal pep-talk you have with yourself before work, reminding yourself to stay positive and avoid office gossip that will only lead to hurt feelings and drama. Or, maybe it means not always answering the phone every time an emotionally draining friend calls. Know your limits!
Conversely, you may feel the pressure and tension of wants versus needs during this retrograde, especially if other aspects of your life have been taking up the majority of your energy, such as work, school, health, friendships, financial issues, etc. That’s never fun to deal with, so be gentle and forgiving to yourself as you find whatever balance you need.
In times of challenge and stress, it’s important to keep in mind the temporary nature of emotions and cycles. Nothing lasts forever! Anything you’re going through, for better or worse, has an expiration date, so enjoy the highs and ride through the lows as best you can. You are not alone, and damn, do you look nice today! Mercury retrograde can serve as a hard reset for emotions, much like the new year is a chance for a fresh start. As you navigate this moment in time, keep in mind how retrograde will affect each sign.
Practice patience this retrograde, even if you yearn for action! As a sign that values movement and leadership, doing nothing can sometimes feel like a death sentence. Spoiler alert: it’s not. With retrograde’s tendency to lean towards chaos, choosing to keep your cool and waiting for the right time will prove to be your secret weapon.
Convenience is truly a double-edged sword, isn’t it? With the advent of food delivery services, cars, online ordering, etc.—we barely need to leave our houses anymore. But with this convenience comes a dangerous complacency. How will you meet new people and have new experiences if you aren’t willing to be uncomfortable? This retrograde is the perfect time to let yourself be a beginner and try something new. Allow yourself to breathe through the discomfort. It’ll be worth it!
Follow your instincts, Gemini. They are the deep feelings waiting for you beneath all of the distractions you create to avoid them. Every person and every sign already has the answers inside of them—it’s through trauma and the trauma of others that these answers become hidden. But you’ve done the work, and even if you’ve lacked the follow-through in the past, this retrograde will help prepare you. Spend time in the quiet, both internally and externally. See what follows.
Self-love cannot be bought and sold, though capitalism is doing its best to convince you otherwise. And even less talked about: self-care really does look different for each person. We all need different things at different times. It’s up to you, Cancer, to be truly honest about what the things you need are. This retrograde may bring back old insecurities and anxiety, and genuine self-care is the antidote to moving beyond the past and rewriting the future.
Most of us deal with tension and stress in the ways that were demonstrated to us as children—sometimes these are healthy releases, and other times, they’re really, really not. This retrograde, pay attention to what your vices are, and how they make you feel. If you find yourself binging on fast food every time work is stressful, are you perpetuating the cycle by eating food that makes you feel sluggish and gross? Next time, try going to the grocery store and treating yourself to some healthier pre-made foods. You’re already spending the money, so see if you can’t make your vice a little kinder to your current and future self.
Look, I totally get that relationships are a compromise. Realistically, one partner may need more emotional support than another, etc. etc., but non-negotiables are the things that we require to feel good in a relationship, full stop. For you, maybe that’s having a partner who does half the household chores or one who listens deeply and empathetically when you talk. Whatever your non-negotiable is, Virgo, honor it. You can deal with and find solutions to so many other problems in relationships, but if your core needs are unmet, you will always be unsatisfied.
Working a little more routine into your days will change the game, dear Libra. Think of the little things, like cleaning up your breakfast dishes to come home to a clean house, or even doing one chore every day after work so your weekend isn’t back-to-back obligations and errands. These tiny tasks aren’t really little at all. They’re everything! Focus on the little things this retrograde, and see how they all contribute to your big-picture happiness.
Boom. A new project idea pops into your head. Redoing your room, going back to school, DIYing something you saw online. Your brain feels HEADY with the knowledge that you are going to do something great. And you will, Scorpio! But first, you need to get caught up on all the other projects and tasks you’ve started and left half-finished. This might mean settling for less-than-stellar results, but finish. I promise tying up loose ends will feel even better than starting something new.
It’s no one’s job to play detective or psychologist to another person’s behaviors, and yet we all do it, constantly, as if by sheer force of will we can determine the Ultimate Truth and Fix Everything. This desire occurs even more strongly during Mercury retrograde when communication can get twisted and have us wondering about intention versus impact. Now is a great time to remind yourself and others to stop performing free emotional labor, and to trust patterns and behaviors over all else. Don’t work for free, Sagittarius.
You’re one of the most responsible signs, and usually have no issues tending to necessities—but part of necessities are joy and friendships and fun! Do you invest time and/or money into things that aren’t just for function? If not, it’s time to readjust your priorities to make time for yourself. We all need room to stretch and grow and try. Extend your reach, Capricorn. Recognize that going to your favorite weekly yoga class with friends is just as important as saving for your 401k.
Long-term financial planning doesn’t sound sexy—but damn, it truly is. While actively investing or opening a retirement account, etc. isn’t advised during an actual retrograde, you can totally start with just saving. Look at your spending and see areas where you can cut back — even just five dollars here and there can make a big difference. For those completely new to financial planning, check out helpful sites like r/personalfinance or Cashay to start.
All the signs can benefit from planning more downtime and restorative activities throughout the day—but especially you, Pisces. Creativity and space to process your emotions are crucial in maintaining your day-to-day mental health. Everything else has to work around it. Consider this your reminder that you get to put yourself first. Before your job, before your partner, and before all of the other obligations that come with adulthood. You get to choose yourself, every time.