Mercury, the planet closest to the sun, will soon round the bend in its orbit, and then appear to stop and spin backwards. It’s an optical illusion called Mercury retrograde, and, according to astrologers, it has some major consequences here on Earth—especially on communication, travel, and technology.
Mercury retrograde will start on May 19 and last until June 11, when it will go direct again. Astrologers say to expect communication, travel, and technology go haywire. (Tali and Ophira Edut, astrologers and founders of AstroTwins, advise backing up your phone, packing a roadside emergency kit, and purchasing travel insurance for those Memorial Day weekend plans.)
But that’s not all: Mercury retrograde could have a lot in store for your health. Here’s what astrologers say to watch out for during the planet’s retrograde when it comes to your body and emotions.
1. Everything annoys you.
You might find yourself on edge while Mercury is in retrograde. That’s because Mercury is said to govern the nervous system, and when it’s misbehaving you could feel increased anxiety and edginess. Couple that with those travel delays and miscommunication issues, and you have a perfect recipe for heightened crankiness. “It’s a great time to complain, but remind yourself you’re ultimately in control of your emotions. Take a moment to laugh at yourself, and this will pass,” says Debra Silverman, an astrologer and trained clinical psychologist. While everyone is affected by Mercury’s motion, Silverman says mercurial, intellectual people—especially, Virgos, Sagittarius, Geminis, and Pisces—are most susceptible to rattled nerves during the retrograde.
2. You feel like no one understands you.
Mercury is said to rule the synapses in the front of the brain as well as communication issues, so when it’s in retrograde you might have a foggy feeling and have to explain yourself clearly and slowly to make a simple point. That’s why it might be best to avoid heavy relationship chats or signing contracts at this time. “Mercury is angry and wants to unravel everything,” says Maralyn Burstein, a New York-based astrologer. While it’s impossible to stop life, Silverman suggests slowing everything down to figure out what’s really important and what can wait. “There will be glitches: calls drop, texts don’t go through, mail gets lost,” she says. “Just accept the fact that everything that could go wrong will go wrong, and then reframe your situation and think about what’s going right instead.”
3. You can’t shake that late-spring cold.
It might not be May’s up-and-down weather that’s wreaking havoc on your lungs: Supposedly, Mercury in retrograde weakens the nerves that send messages to the lungs. According to astrologers, during those weeks we don’t breathe out bad air effectively, which makes us susceptible to lung-infections, increases bronchial fluids, and produces phlegm. “It’s common to see more fevers related to pneumonia and lung infections,” says Burstein. To make matters worse, Mercury’s upcoming retrograde passes through Gemini, an air sign, so germs are believed to spread more easily through the air and through touch. “Avoid close talkers and large crowds,” says Burstein. Also, since Mercury governs communication, expect weaker vocal cords while it’s in retrograde.
4. Hitting the gym is harder than usual.
The mental fog that Mercury in retrograde delivers can make your workouts potentially hazardous. It’s all too easy to let your mind wander during a press or let your form slip, says Burstein. Additionally, she warns that the toll Mercury takes on the nerves makes runners susceptible to foot injuries. Why? The theory is that an out-of-whack nervous system muddles the connection between the brain and feet, causing too many wrong steps.
5. Your gut goes haywire.
We all know that butterflies-in-the-stomach feeling. And some of us even feel the need to race to the bathroom when stress levels skyrocket. During this time, expect an out-of-whack nervous system to make your digestion extra-sensitive, says Mitchell Lewis, an astrologer working on a book about medical astrology. “Digestion collapses as people hold emotions in because they aren’t communicating well and they’re anxious.”
6. You feel like recharging.
Mercury goes into retrograde three or four times a year, which makes it a nice quarterly slowdown and a time to catch up with people. “We get to tie up loose ends,” say the Edut twins. “It can also be a nice time for reunions, since people from our past tend to circle back around.” Silverman suggests meditating more and embracing Mercury retrograde as a chance to revisit unanswered problems. “Outside the box thinking happens often during this period,” she says. “Which means that new solutions to old problems may pop up. When you take it in stride and accept it, Mercury retrograde is really enjoyable. You get to look at your life, take stock, and reassess. What’s not to love?”