"It was still quite challenging for a couple of days," Luke Bryan told PEOPLE, adding that he did not have a "long set of symptoms"

Luke Bryan is sharing his COVID-19 experience.

The 44-year-old country star announced on Twitter April 12 that he tested positive for COVID-19, confirming that he'd be sitting out American Idol until he'd recovered. On Sunday, Bryan was awarded the 2021 Academy of Country Music Awards' entertainer of the year award, accepting the honor virtually from the Idol set in Los Angeles.

Bryan told PEOPLE that his wife Caroline helped him through his bout with the virus.

"Certainly the key to feeling better for having COVID was, you know, I was very fortunate to not have a long, long set of symptoms and stuff. ... It was still quite challenging for a couple of days, but thank God for just, certainly, health," he said. "There were times when Caroline was nursing me back to health, so I was certainly amazed to move through that."

"And now, looking back on the past going into a year and a half, I mean, the main thing that's got us through is certainly your friends and your family and praying that everybody can see the side of certainly this pandemic," Bryan added.

Bryan also spoke about the "amazingly challenging year for the entertainment business" and what got him through the most difficult moments.

"I think at the core of it all, the fact that that I've been home a little more and I could spend quality time with my family has certainly gotten me through all of the challenges of this year," said Bryan, who is dad to sons Bo, 13, and Tate, 10.

luke bryan
Credit: Jon Kopaloff/Getty

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"But you learn that, at your core, I mean, being out onstage in front of your fans is a big part of my happiness as a human being too," the performer continued. "I'm not gonna sit here and say I haven't had ups and downs and bouts of kind of depression stuff, as so many people out there ... you look back on a night and certainly winning entertainer of the year is one of those things where you're like, you know, thank you God, thank you fans. Very excited here in L.A. tonight."  

Bryan added that he feels "blessed" to be on the "other side" of his COVID-19 diagnosis.

Bryan also told Entertainment Tonight about quarantining at home in Tennessee and how challenging it was to have to sit out a live episode of Idol while self-isolating. Paula Abdul filled in for Bryan in his absence.

"I put myself in a part of the house and stayed away from my boys. I really didn't want the boys to miss any school so [the one of the hardest things was] not being able to hug all my children," he said.

Bryan added, "I mean, it was really really tough not being [at Idol]. That was the toughest part of quarantine. It was really tough for me to have to miss out but I was really honored and very, you know, amazed that Paula stepped in for me."