Too many Americans are experiencing disconnection, isolation, and loneliness. According to research by Cigna, more than half (58%) of Americans are considered lonely.

This December, the U.S. Surgeon General issued a challenge: take the “5-for-5 Connection Challenge” as a way to build and strengthen your own relationships and inspire others to incorporate connection in their daily lives. The Surgeon General participated in his own challenge, speaking to Matthew McConaughey about a time he asked for help, and calling Senator Chris Murphy to exemplify how being available for a phone call is a simple act that boosts connection and offers support. 

I accepted this challenge and incorporated five acts of connection five days in a row. These acts of connection could be 1 simple action of my choice each day to express gratitude, offer support, ask for help, or deepen relationships.

Day 1

On the first day of the challenge, I chose to attend an event where we all contemplated our shared experiences, allowing me to form meaningful relationships with other attendees. At the event, I met someone who has a similar job as me, and we were able to discuss our respective experiences. As someone who works remotely, I found it was great to have these conversations in person because it allowed us to share tips and learn from each other.

Day 2

The second act of connection I focused on was connecting more frequently with others. To do so, I reached out to a friend I haven’t seen in a while and made plans to meet up for dinner the following week. She was excited to hear from me and it made me even more excited to reconnect! 

Day 3

The next act I chose was related to the act of connecting with myself. As suggested by the Surgeon General, I completed a self-reflection exercise meant to “Nourish your Connection Garden” by taking a moment and reflecting on something you recently found nourishing. As someone who is admittedly a homebody and introvert, sometimes engaging frequently in social situations can wear me down. An act that I found nourishing lately was making time for myself and reading for at least 30 minutes per day. Although social connection is vital, this exercise helped me recognize that it is okay to take some time to recharge and relax by yourself.

Day 4

On the fourth day of the challenge, I offered my support to my family members by being present with them. With the holiday season upon us, I’m sure many of us can relate to asking your parents what gifts you could get them, only for them to respond with “Nothing – spending time with my family is all I need.” While a sweet sentiment, this can be frustrating as a gift-giver. This year – anticipating this response – I thought about what I could do both presently and long-term to grant this wish. After doing some thinking, I decided to spend time with my parents at home watching Survivor and talking, and I also bought concert tickets for next year so that I could extend their gift of spending quality time together. Even though it’s not Christmas yet, I am someone who feels a need to tell someone what their gift is as soon as I buy it for them, so I excitedly let them know that we were all going to see a concert that they have long wanted to see. Seeing their reaction and feeling their excitement made me so happy and fulfilled.

Day 5

Every Friday during our weekly Coalition team meetings, we start off by sharing three good things, which is an action under Expressing Gratitude. This day, my three good things included sharing my excitement about the concert tickets, my relief of finishing a personal project I had been working on, and the event I had attended on Monday which included free pizza and an opportunity to see people I hadn’t seen in a while (as well as meet new people). This exercise is a simple way to reflect on your life and find things to be grateful for, even if they are simple or small. I always enjoy hearing everybody’s three good things, so I encourage others to try it! (When performed regularly, this exercise has been found to have many positive benefits including increased happiness.) 

Overall, this challenge reminded me that social connection takes work. Since I work from home, it is easy to go days at a time without much social interaction, and it can get incredibly lonely. Even though my actions only spanned over the course of five days, there is so much more that I hope to accomplish going forward in my own personal journey of increasing my social connections. 

Although the Surgeon General’s official challenge runs December 4th-15th, you can complete it at any time and incorporate these actions into your daily lives. I encourage you to share your experience taking on the 5-for-5 Connection Challenge by tagging the Surgeon General, the Coalition to End Social Isolation and Loneliness, and the Foundation for Social Connection on social media and use the hashtag #MadeToConnect. For more ideas on how to connect within your community, you can also visit and explore the Foundation’s Action Guide – an interactive website with activities, resources, toolkits, and promising strategies to help build connection with your community members.