by John Russel Jones

Outdoor retailer L.L.Bean is officially back online after going “off the grid” for one month in recognition of Mental Health Awareness month. But more than a return to social media, the brand is returning with a sharpened focus on inspiring and enabling people to experience the restorative power of the outdoors. This includes proprietary research with University of California Irvine (UCI) Associate Professor of Psychological Science Dr. Paul Piff exploring the benefits of time outdoors, as well as new and continued charitable partnerships with the Boys and Girls Clubs of America, Mental Health America, and OUT There Adventures.

“At L.L.Bean, we believe the outdoors brings out the best in us. This is why we spent the last month off social media and prioritizing time outside,” said Shawn Gorman, Executive Chairman and great-grandson of L.L.Bean. “Now that we’re back online, we’re excited to work with Dr. Piff and UCI to better understand the restorative power of the outdoors, as well as partner with like-minded organizations to help ensure those benefits are as accessible and as inclusive as possible.”

A growing body of evidence suggests the benefits of time outdoors are vast — from improved short-term memory and enhanced creativity to lower levels of stress and greater feelings of well-being — but many people don’t understand why. One reason is that nature evokes awe, the emotional response to being in the presence of something so vast that it transcends one’s understanding of the world. Through two consecutive studies, L.L.Bean and Dr. Piff will research the mental, social and health benefits of experiencing awe through time spent outside:

  • Project 1: Is awe through nature linked to improved social connection and emotional and physical health during the COVID-19 pandemic?
  • Project 2: Can an intervention to increase moments of awe have a positive impact on overall health and happiness?

“For hundreds of years, people have talked about the importance of awe to human life and interpersonal relations,” said Dr. Paul Piff. “I am excited to be working with L.L.Bean to more deeply understand how it is linked to spending time outside and overall health, happiness, and social connection.”

Charitable Partnerships

L.L.Bean is also investing in multiple organizations and partnerships focused on helping people experience the outdoors, including:

  • Boys & Girls Club of America (BGCA) – As part of L.L.Bean’s $500,000, two-year partnership to expand the sports and recreation programming for Boys & Girls Clubs, the brand will officially launch an Outdoor Recreation Playbook in June that formalizes a “Social Recreation” curriculum, supporting emotional wellness activities and reducing the barriers for kids and teens to have new and engaging experiences with the outdoors. L.L.Bean is also continuing to offer Outdoor Discovery Programs (ODP) at select Clubs, with expert guides on-site to introduce young people to a range of outdoor activities.
  • Mental Health America (MHA) – Through a $500,000 grant and two-year partnership, L.L.Bean will work with MHA to reach people through community-based, mental health programs. The partnership includes research and multimedia campaigns aimed at creating connection and inclusion in the outdoors and uncovering the wellbeing benefits of time spent outside.
  • OUT There Adventures – L.L.Bean is proud to celebrate the LGBTQ+ community, with $50,000 to support our friends at OUT There Adventures. OUT There Adventures is an organization that supports the mental wellbeing and development of LGBTQ+ youth through outdoor experiences.

To learn more, visit www.llbean.com.