Lea Michele's Boyfriend, Family and Cat Keep Her Centered: 'I'm Very Happy and I Can't Hide It'

"When I'm not working, I'm at home with my cat, with my family, with my boyfriend, with the people that I love," Michele tells PEOPLE

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Lea Michele has certainly had a busy year.

The actress and singer, 31, released her second studio album Places, went on a full U.S. tour and shot an entire season of her new TV show The Mayor. She also found love with her longtime friend and AYR clothing company president Zandy Reich.

So when does the Glee alum get to stop and take a breath? Michele tells PEOPLE exclusively she’s able to “reset” when she can “step outside” of it all.

“When I’m not working, I’m at home with my cat, with my family, with my boyfriend, with the people that I love — and that’s how I reset, and that’s how I center myself,” says Michele. “It’s so important to tune out the noise and the unnecessary, and just focus on the people that you love because they know you better than anyone.”

Lea Michele/Instagram

When she’s not performing, Michele says she chooses to constantly surround herself with family and loved ones.

“I’m very happy and I think that you can tell,” says Michele. “I don’t really talk a lot about my personal life, but I’m also the kind of person where I always say, ‘You will see how happy I am just by looking at my face.’ I can’t hide it.”

Another way Michele — who spent Thanksgiving weekend with Reich and her “huge Italian family” — resets is by giving back. The singer is working with eBay for Charity and Feeding America to help fight U.S. hunger for Giving Tuesday.

“During this time of year when everyone is eating and not worrying about food, you have to stop and think about those who are less fortunate,” says Michele.

The star personally designed a PINTRILL pin — a food-inspired U.S. map — to be sold on eBay for the campaign, and 100 percent of the proceeds go to Feeding America. Her fans can also bid on a VIP visit with Michele on set of The Mayor.

“Doing something like this is a great way for me to sort of reset and feel good, and feel like I’m using my platform as someone with a voice in this business to do something for good,” she says.

EXCLUSIVE: Actress Lea Michele is seen departing an office building in NYC
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Michele adds that beyond this campaign, she hopes her fans will celebrate Giving Tuesday by volunteering at a food bank or by simply taking the time to help others.

“I always feel good when I take the time to step outside. Every day we focus so much on ourselves, and it’s so important to stop and think about other people,” says Michele. “It always makes me feel so great to stop for a second and change the focus from myself and all the things that I’m doing in a day and think about other people.”

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