updated 01/14/2009 AT 3:00 PM ET
•originally published 01/14/2009 AT 4:05 PM ET
“It’s about finding happiness and joy, as if it were water and I was a person dying in a desert. You have to search for that,” Applegate tells PEOPLE.
The actress, who was nominated for a Golden Globe for her role on ABC’s Samantha Who?, told PEOPLE at Sunday’s awards ceremony that getting through last year wasn’t easy: “You can’t get any darker than I went.”
But now that she’s cancer-free, she plans to hit the ground running – literally. “I missed running so much,” says Applegate, 37. “I’m looking forward to running more.”
She’ll also be spending more time with friends, like she did on Sunday when she and pal Eva Longoria Parker spent the morning primping together.
“It was like a little party,” she says. “It was fun.”