The singer opens up to PEOPLE about finding joy after getting through the most difficult time in her life

By Melody Chiu
October 12, 2016 08:30 AM
Credit: Jamie Nelson/Nickelodeon©2016/Viacom

Gwen Stefani‘s life was thrown into chaos after her marriage to Gavin Rossdale ended last year, but now the singer is back on top both personally and professionally.

“I feel like I’m in the next chapter moving into the next phase of whatever just happened,” Stefani, 47, tells PEOPLE exclusively. “Even though that year was challenging, it was also one of my favorite things that ever happened to me.”

After separating from Rossdale, the musician – who’s executive producing Nickelodeon’s new animated series Kuu Kuu Harajuku (airing Saturdays at 9 a.m.) – channeled her heartbreak into her music and saw her highly anticipated solo album, This Is What the Truth Feels Like, hit No. 1 on the charts.

“Honestly, I was trying to help myself first and I didn’t have any vision about what the outcome would be when I was in the middle of it,” says the star of writing the album. “It was about getting out what I needed to get out and using my gift to try to heal myself.”

While touring this summer, Stefani could see the impact her music had on her fans. “When you’re face to face, you kind of know each other because they know what you went through and they supported it,” she says. “They just literally turn you around and there’s so many beautiful experiences.”

For much more on Gwen Stefani’s life now and how she found love and happiness again, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday. To shop her limited-edition Harajuku Lovers by Gwen Stefani Red Hot! capsule collection, visit Time Inc.’s e-commerce destination People Shop (sales will benefit the American Red Cross Home Fire safety prevention program).

Credit: Larsen & Talbert

Stefani has also found new love with her Voice co-star Blake Shelton and is busy getting back into school season with her three boys (with Rossdale), Kingston, 10, Zuma, 8, and Apollo, 2½.

“I don’t really feel like I live in the Hollywood craziness,” she says. “I have my regular life, my house, my school runs … I love family time.”

And after soldiering through one of the toughest times in her life with the help of her faith (“I’ve been really working hard on my spiritual exercising and when you do that, I think you find suddenly you’re seeing in color,” she says), Stefani is putting her dark days behind her.

“I’m the happiest I’ve ever been,” she says. “I’m in a good place and I’m so excited. There’s always amazing things to come.”