Selena Gomez may be the most-followed person on Instagram (124 million and counting), but the singer knows when it’s time to unplug and take a step back from the spotlight. Last October, Gomez canceled her tour and sought out treatment to focus on her emotional health and exhaustion, something she’s opening up about in the September issue of InStyle.

“I went away for 90 days, and it was the best thing that I ever could’ve done,” she tells InStyle‘s Laura Brown in her candid cover interview. “I had no phone, nothing, and I was scared. But it was amazing, and I learned a lot.”

Gomez says being completely cut off from the outside world and her life as a celebrity was crucial to her personal healing process.

“I was in the countryside and never did my hair; I took part in equine therapy, which is so beautiful,” she reveals. “And it was hard, obviously. But I knew what my heart was saying, and I thought, ‘OK, I think this has helped me become stronger for other people.’”

Even though she’s back in a big way (new music, a new relationship and a big fashion partnership with Coach!), the singer says “there are still days” that are difficult.

“I go to therapy. I believe in that and talking about where you are,” she says. “But I’m in a really, really healthy place.”

Gomez is also “really” happy in her new relationship with The Weeknd, né Abel Tesfaye, but she knows the importance of standing solo.

“I don’t depend on one area of my life to make me happy. It’s really important for me to love and nourish my friends and family and to make sure that I never get influenced by a guy,” she says when asked about her new boyfriend. “I’ve wanted to be in a strong headspace for years, and I really wasn’t. Before, I was so young and easily influenced, and I’d feel insecure. You want someone to add to your life, not to complete you, if that makes sense. I’m lucky because he’s more of a best friend than anything else.”

"Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garcons: Art Of The In-Between" Costume Institute Gala - Arrivals
Credit: Taylor Hill/FilmMagic

“I kind of wish numbers didn’t exist sometimes, because I feel like I’m 15 some days, and then other days I wake up and I’m 40,” Gomez, who turned 25 on July 22, says. “It’s so weird, how one year can change everything.”

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Credit: Photographed for InStyle by Phil Poynter

One thing that Gomez will always struggle to get used to is her social media fame. As the most followed person on Instagram, she continues to struggle with the intense scrutiny that comes along with it.

“It’s good to be connected, to see things, and to get a sense of what your friends are up to. But it also allows people to think they need to look or be a certain way … now it feels more zoomed-in — you have ugly people trying to get negative things from you, and the energy makes you feel bad about yourself,” she says. “You can’t help it. It’s very hard to find out who you are during all that mess and pressure.”

For more on Gomez’s return to the limelight, pick up InStyle‘s September issue on stands Aug. 11.

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