Duchess of Cambridge's brother shares mental health tips: 'I believe in the outdoors'

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·Lifestyle Writer, Yahoo Life UK
·3-min read
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Ambassador for the Friends for Life award James Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge's brother, poses for a photograph with his dogs Inka, Luna, Ella and Mabel at a launch event for this year's Crufts and Friends for Life in Green Park, London. (PA Images via Getty Images)
The Duchess of Cambridge went to James Middleton's therapy sessions for depression. (PA Images via Getty Images)

James Middleton has opened up about how he boosts his mood when he's feeling low.

The Duchess of Cambridge's younger brother, 35, is known for candidly talking about his journey with overcoming depression and coping day to day with mental health.

"I'm a great believer in being outdoors, whether in the city or the countryside," he told HELLO! for its Mental Health Digital Issue.

"Putting yourself first to take a moment is sometimes hard but so important. To get outside and away from the stagnant air inside is uplifting."

James Middleton attends the launch of the George Charitable Dogs Committee at George Club on February 26, 2020 in London, England (Getty Images for The Birley Clubs)
'You can tell a dog your darkest thoughts and trust them because they won't tell anyone else,' says James Middleton. (Getty Images for The Birley Clubs)

Middleton is an entrepreneur, mental health advocate, ambassador for Pets As Therapy UK, and founder of Ella & Co, a happiness and wellbeing company for dogs, inspired by his eldest black cocker spaniel, Ella.

"I also enjoy taking my six dogs for walks," he added, as owner of Ella, Zulu, Inka, Luna, Mabel and Nala. "It's lovely when people are interested in my dogs. They stop and say, 'Please can we say hi to them?' Before we know it, we're chatting."

For those who don't have pets, he recommends volunteering at a local shelter, such as The Dogs Trust and Battersea Dogs Home, both of which do fostering programmes.

"You can tell a dog your darkest thoughts and trust them because they won't tell anyone else. To put your emotions into words to your dog is a release."

Read more: City worker quits £100k-a-year job to live in van: 'I feel so much more free'

Ambassador for the Friends for Life award James Middleton poses for a photograph with his dogs Inka, Luna, Ella and Mabel at a launch event for this year's Crufts and Friends for Life in Green Park, London. (Photo by Kirsty O'Connor/PA Images via Getty Images)
James Middleton was inspired by his dogs to live in the now. (PA Images via Getty Images)

Middleton regularly documents his outdoorsy lifestyle with wife Alizee Thevenet on social media, touching on mental health in many of his posts, including sharing his thoughts on the difficulties of January at the start of the year.

"My thoughts on January... I've always found January a very difficult month, especially when I was suffering with clinical depression," he wrote on Instagram.

"When everyone is setting new goals, laying down new ground rules and striving to become a better version of themselves, while some of us are just about surviving..."

Read more: Scarlett Moffatt felt 'guilt' for loneliness during pandemic: 'It affects us all'

He explained he had, however, set himself a "new mantra" inspired by his dogs: "Don't spend every moment thinking of the one to come, or ones in the past. The past is imperfect, the future will be too, but now – we can do something about that.

"So right now... I'm going to take the dogs for a long walk hand in hand with my wife," he added, demonstrating his belief in the great outdoors and pet therapy then too.

Middleton described the day he was diagnosed with clinical depression as "the first day I learnt about mental health and how it is integral to the way we live our lives".

Read more: Duchess of Cambridge tackles depression and anxiety in mums with new role: 'No mother immune'

Other than utilising the benefits of nature and his canine friends, he also sought professional help, with his big sister Kate even joining him in therapy sessions.

"That was so important," he previously told The Telegraph. "Because it helped them understand me and how my mind was working. And I think the way the therapy helped me was that I didn't need my family to say, 'What can we do?' The only thing they could do was just to come to some of the therapy sessions to start to understand."

Watch: 5 top tips to boost your mental health

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